4 Hours Old a short story collection by Brian John Mitchell

I originally intended to put all these pieces in a flowing order, but I just donít have the energy to do things like that anymore. I also thought that I might be able to find somebody besides myself that might be interested in presenting it. but that didnít happen, so here are some random pieces....
 
 

Nun, No Rings

I think Iím dying in her arms. Sheís so beautiful against the bright white sky even though I canít focus my eyes. Iím coughing & I canít even feel my body shake as I do it. Iím telling her that I love her & sheís saying, "No, no, donít say that." My mouthís coating over like Iím going to sleep. Iím taking off my ring that is cheap & worthless & have worn every day for ten years (itís the only jewelry I wear) & I want to put it on her finger. Sheís saying, "No, Brian, I canít wear it." I open my eyes & really see her for the first time. Sheís a girl I had a crush on when I was nineteen , but sheís wearing a black habit without her head covered. Iím still trying to put the ring on her finger & she bends her head down & kisses my forehead. Her hair drapes over my eyes & sheís whispering in my ear, "I canít wear it, Iíll keep it forever though." She pulls back upright again & sheís squeezing my right hand with her left over my chest; I can see it, but I canít feel it. My feet feel like theyíre turning into a pool of cold water.
 
 

hide

Thereís someone in bed with me & theyíre kicking me in the back. Iím not sure who it is or if theyíre conscious, so I donít know if I should be rude enough to say anything. I take my pillow & put it on my back & the kicks donít hurt (they were never really hard enough to), but theyíre still annoying. Itís only a twin bed & Iím on the wall side so I donít really have any place to escape to. Iím cramming myself against the wall & my left leg slides between the mattress & the wall & my footís on the hardwood floor & it feels dirty & disgusting like it hasnít been cleaned for ten years. Sheís still kicking me & I wiggle myself along the wall & slide under the bed. Thereíre pieces of dirt big enough I can feel under me & I feel like Iím going to suffocate in the dust. Itís pretty black & I hope Iím just seeing things, but there might be a two inch spider on my left shoulder. I want to freak out, but Iím still not sure whoís on the bed & if I want to attract their attention; so I just lie still & try to go to sleep.
 
 

Bathed

    Iím visiting the town I used to go to college in (I dropped out a couple years ago). Itís the last time Iíll probably ever see most of the people here. Iím staying at my friend Mikeís house (an actual house; itís rental, so itís run down & looks like it should be condemned). Iíve been here nine days & Iíve been intoxicated (usually so much I feel happy) the whole time. Iím fucked up right now from this morningís drinking (itís noon now) & two hits of acid. Iím with this girl who Iíve never been sure if I should call my friend because I donít know her very well. Sheís cool. Her name is Lukshmie. She has a nose ring, but it doesnít look stupid on her like on most people who are trying to be hip. In fact, if she takes it out she doesnít look quite right. It might be her dark skin. The phoneís ringing & I find it & itís an old black rotary dial. I pick it up & say, "Hello."
    "Hello." Itís this girl Iím enamored by & want to date. I left a message for her three days ago & didnít think Iíd get a response anymore. Really I gave up on a response a year & a half ago when she stopped responding to my letters.
    "Hae, Julie. I guess you got the message I was in town."
    "Uh-huh."
    "Well, I was wondering if you wanted to do something with me sometime?"
    "Sure."
    Lukshmie is staring at me & covering her mouth to hold in laughter. Iím kind of famous for not liking girls & I know my social skills towards dating are horrible. "When?"
    "I donít know, how Ďbout around two oíclock."
    "Thatíd be great."
    "I can pick you up there."
    "See you then."
    "Bye bye."
    "Bye."
    Lukshmieís getting up & saying, "Iíve got to go to class."
    "I need you to do me a big favor. Itís not hard or difficult, but important to me."
    "What?"
    "Tell me when itís one-thirty so I can try to clean myself up."
    "Does somebody got a date?"
    "Shut up."
    "Iíve never heard of you going out with a girl before. Is this one that special?"
    "No. Sheís not special, Iím just enamored by her. I mean, she is special, but probably only to me."
    "Okay. Iíll come back by as soon as I get out of class."
    "Thank you." Sheís gone & Iím alone & I think I smell really bad. I didnít shower yesterday & Iím not sure I did the day before & Iíve been wearing the same clothes the whole time & I havenít taken off my shoes & I feel like I canít because I know the smell will be terrible. I get up & go outside & it is very bright. I feel this pain & I look down & my pants are soaking wet at the crotch & some liquid is shooting in pulses from several different spots in the area. Iím not sure what it is & I donít want to be. It hurts kind of bad & I just want it to stop. I lay face down on the deck & the pressure against my crotch lessens the pain a little, but it still hurts enough I feel I could go into seizures. Iím just lying whimpering quietly & I canít even tell if timeís passing.
    "Brian, Iíve been looking all over for you. You wouldnít answer when I called for you." Itís Lukshmie. Her feet are in leather sandals & the right oneís four inches from my face.
    "Help me," Iím whispering & Iím not sure she hears when she takes my left hand & pulls me up.
    "What the fuck happened to you?" Sheís wearing this really cool striped dress with stars thatís in three shades of blue. Iíd think she was a hippie if she wasnít so cool.
    I feel like Iím going to die & she completely takes charge of the situation. She walks me to the bathroom & sits me down with my head resting on the rim of the toilet & turns on the shower. "How the hell did you get this fucked up?" sheís asking.
    Iím still just saying weakly, "Help me." I probably havenít stopped saying it.
    Sheís pulling off my shoes & socks & she seems a little repulsed by the smell & she puts them on the shower stall floor. She takes off the rest of my clothes & puts them in the shower too & the she puts me in. I canít even sit up straight & my head & left shoulder are leaning in a corner.
    She kicks her sandals off & gets in & takes the soap & starts washing me. I feel like I should be embarrassed, but I already am passed that point. Iím muttering, "Thank you," at her. I look down & thereís blood going down the drain & I know it must be mine, but Iím not even sure what part of me itís coming out of. I donít hurt quite as bad anymore.
    The doorbell rings & Lukshmie props me in the corner better & turns down the water pressure & steps out soaking wet & leaves the bathroom. Iím staring at the black & white tiles & they seem to be moving & Iím seeing faces in them.
    Lukshmie comes back & sheís stooped down in the stall face to face with me & is saying, "Brian, listen." She puts her hands on my shoulders & shakes me a little. "Listen, Brian. Thatís Julie. Sheís in the living room right now, what do you want to do?"
 
 

Frizzy Hair, Big Black Eyes

Sheís flirting with me because she has nothing better to do & no one better to do it with (or maybe worse for that matter). Thereís nothing wrong with her & if I was a year younger (though Iím only a year older than her) I would be enamored with her. As things are, Iím just flattered & feel like sheís someoneís little sister whoís cute in that teenaged, young skinned, fatalistic way; but obviously has nothing new to offer me. I donít have anything better to do either (Iím going through what I hope to be a phase where everything is valueless, so I generally take the path of least resistance), so Iím keeping up my end of the conversation. I tell her the truth relentlessly & for a second Iím afraid Iíll scare her away, but then I remember Iím not supposed to even care. Sheís upset that I do drugs & upset that I say "I worship it," about certain ones. She thinks that drugs might be "okay" on occasion, but not as a lifestyle (I feel the opposite; that if itís worth doing, itís worth doing as often as possible). She thinks itís escapist & weak & that reality will still exist & one day you have to stop running. I think the day you stop running from reality is the day your soul dies. I end up agreeing to disagree with her, which angers her a little until I tell her I havenít had a daily or even consistent addiction for two years. The bar & the people in it are really beginning to annoy me & I drank all I feel I can afford to tonight half an hour ago, so I ask her if she wants to go outside & she does, so we do. We go to the left towards a brightly lit building & every place on the way is closed & when we arrive its lights are on, but itís also closed. We turn around & are looking for someplace to eat (both of us had one meal today), but end up giving up & standing in front of the club. Sheís shivering, so I take off my coat & put it over her shoulders. She puts it back on me saying, "Itís cold, you need it," & we push it back & forth for several minutes until I stretch it over both of us (shoulder to shoulder, side by side) pulling her tight against me. Sheís very warm & comfortable & when the wind blows I pull her closer & lean my head against hers. The people I assume she came with come out of the bar & start bitching at her in some language I either donít know or am too tired to understand. One of them hands her a jacket & she shrugs out of mine & away from me & walks away in silence.
 
 

Giraffe

Weíve been hitchhiking for three days now (the point where itís no longer adventurous & glamorous, but simply what you do & things are only momentarily shocking before theyíre forgotten). The truck driver weíre riding with is kicking us out for some reason (probably because Iím sitting in between him & Amy like some kind of barrier). He doesnít even come to a complete stop & Amy opens the door & jumps out & he shoves me in the back when I start to follow her. I start to fall & I think Iím going to die for a second when my left hand catches on to a piece of the door & swings me back perpendicular to the ground & I land with a clean run & itís like nothing ever happened. Weíre walking down the highwayís gravel shoulder with our book bags on & itís getting closer to dark which would only leave cops to pick us up. We stop for a second so I can get some Evian out of my bag & Amy gets a Butterfinger out of hers. Iím standing & stretching & Amyís still bent down eating when this truck-ish thing stops five feet behind us. It has two segments like a truck, but the first one is way too long & looks like a winnebago. Thereís a humming noise & the front of it folds down (like something out of a low budget post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie) & we get in. The driver is talking to us as the front re-closes, but Iím not hearing him because Iím too busy taking in the freakish vehicle. Thereís a range & oven where the passenger seat should be & a step behind it is a big grouping of shelves with fairly random crap including a bag of sugar, plates, pots & pans, an old doll, some dried flowers, & a huge collection of gum machine toys. I sit down in the little space between the oven & shelves & close my eyes. When I open them, Amyís gone & the driverís gone & it feels to me like weíre still moving, but I canít be sure. I get up & go down the little hallway. I take the first left & the room seems to be the rest of the kitchen & has a blue & white tile floor I can make out from the dim light shining through the window. I go closer to the window & itís over a steel double sink & I see something in it. At first I think itís some kind of statue because itís so malformed & gray & splotchy; but when I touch it, it moves & a glistening black eye opens. I take a step back & bump against the wall whispering, "What the fuck?" I turn on the light & go to look at it & see itís tied up so I it canít really move much at all. For a second I think itís some kind of dog, but then I notice the little horns on its head. I look closer & can tell itís the contorted body of an emaciated miniature giraffe. I go to find Amy & sheís asleep half on a chair & half on the floor in a room with a big tv thatís turned off, but still glowing. Iím pulling on her left arm whispering, "Amy," into her ear. She gives me a little "let-me-fucking-sleep" push away & I pull her to her feet. Sheís waking up & talking, saying, "That guyís some kind of weirdo. We were watching Gilliganís Island & he kept yelling at Mary Ann like she was a real person that he really hated." I lead her to the kitchen room (itís easy to find since itís the only light on) & show her the thing in the sink. I pick it up & put it on the floor & weíre both bent down over it. Sheís saying, "What the hell is this?" leaving her mouth slightly open. She pokes it & it makes this weird "ba-a-ah" noise & water starts to come out of its left eye & itís spasming trying to move itself. I put it back in the sink & it seems to calm down. "I think we need to get out of here." "Yeah." I click off the light & we go to the front of the RV, but we donít know how to work its door. We roll down the driver side window & Amy climbs out & I throw her our bags & climb out after her. Itís about 5:30 & the sun will be up soon & if a cop stops us before then Iíll give them a story that weíre with the RV & wanted to get some exercise before the dayís drive.
 
 

carefree

Weíre both high & three hours from home & somehow sheís convinced some stranger to let us stay in her house. There are a whole bunch of other people here too & Iím wondering if any of them really know the girl whose house this is. Iím in the living room area & thereís this wooden picnic table with benches that Iím sitting at listening to my brain rev. I look up & there are three different guys talking to my girlfriend, each of them with their skin touching hers. For a second Iím really pissed off & I want to kick all three of their asses & I know I could when Iím this high. Then I think sheís fucking old enough to take care of herself & do whatever she wants to do & itís her life, not mine & Iím no one to say anything. My back starts to ache & I slouch over on the table waiting to pass out or die. I canít do either because there are probably twenty people in the room all talking at once & itís making me feel like Iím supersaturated or that Iíve held my breath too long. My girlfriend takes me by the hand & pulls me up & behind her to a bedroom. Weíre lying on a bed with at least two other people & itís not comfortable & I feel like their bodies will swallow mine. I want to leave, but I feel like it would be rude & irresponsible. Maybe I really am rude & irresponsible & Iíve been lying to myself for years, so I do get up & leave. I leave the room & then the house. Itís dark outside & there arenít any street lights & I donít know what the fuck Iím supposed to do.
 
 

swans girl

Iím attracted to her for no apparent reason. Her hairís dyed orange & sheís shorter than me, so I arbitrarily assume sheís younger than me. She has round black rimmed glasses & oversized pupils. Sheís wearing a white long sleeved shirt. She somehow reminds me of myself which is why Iím shocked by the attraction (I hate myself). I want her to take me away to a suburban world where my life is on a regular schedule & we have kids that she stays home with & I barely know. I want her to isolate me from everything I know now & turn me into something more lovable. I want to kneel at her side embracing her waist crying until my knees ache & my eyes are dry. I want her to love me forever. I canít say a word, but I do start to cry a little.
 
 

mish

Iím not sober & Iíve got that look & air about me where Iím really disgusting. The kind of stuff that would make your mother stop loving you. Iím scared that I wouldnít look pretty even to a young blue-eyed girl in love. That Iíve already passed the last stage where she says, "Heís not of value anymore. I always thought, ĎHe has some problems, but he can change & heís really great deep down inside where heís hard to get to know,í but now I realize heís just horrible & disgusting. Heís like a piece of snot you canít clean off of your body unless you put him on someone elseís." Itís kind of depressing, but not enough to turn my life around for. I want to get all the way to the bottom & for someone to reach down & save me, or maybe somebody to find there to save me. Sleeping in my drainage tunnel already when I get home (Iím not going to let myself get to the point where I donít think sewage is bad). Sheíll be there sleeping in the cold water so you canít tell whether or not sheís been crying. Stretching up & for a moment you canít be sure if sheís a human or an animal & then for a second youíre not sure if sheís an angel or a demon because in this deluded state it seems like those are the only ones whoíd have to hide themselves & live like this. But then I guess she is human & I kind of want to kick her out, but I think sheís small & cute & really doesnít take up that much room & I start by giving her the best sleeping area, but she keeps coming back every night like my hole is so fucking special. I guess it is, I mean, I like it a lot but it is a fucking hole. Itís a five foot radius concrete pipe & I like the ambiance & noise of it late at night when a car rolls over some part of it & there are these great bass noises so much more fabulous than a washing machine could make when I still lived in a house (itís funny that living in a house should seem so strange now, but those things are just too expensive emotionally & financially for me right now). Itís a step up from under the bridge too. Living under a bridge is like living in some kind of tomb. They have the iron re-enforcement stuff & you cram your way into this bin about eighteen or twenty inches tall (I know some underbridges are nicer) & just barely long enough for me to fit in (sometimes Iím lucky that Iím short) & thereís concrete above & below you & sometimes the noises are so loud you canít even tell whether theyíre coming from above or below you. It doesnít seem like it could be that fucking different to actually be run over & it seems like itís so obvious that people live there & people would find some way to get where theyíre going where they donít have to cross so many bridges, but then I guess that would lead to a shortage of adequate housing. Itís very warm though & thereís not much ventilation. Very dry usually too. Maybe itís not really a step up from living under a bridge. Itís just a cooler wetter way of living & also it seems a little cooler to the other kids. You could almost have them over to see how you live & you could raise a family or something, but bridges are just for swinging immature twenty year olds who want to be cool or something. So we start sleeping together (not fucking much because its noises might attract our real sub-urban neighbors & we donít have regular means of bathing & I donít want to reek for several days because I fucked & I canít take a bath for two more days) & become a couple & talk about getting married & having kids. Maybe trying to get the city to build us an extra room. But there isnít really anything Iíd exactly call love. Just two burnt out kids who started living together for lack of the city building enough drainage tunnels. Living together so long they canít function quite right not together because if you start to have really cool stuff you donít need to be quite as paranoid all the time if someone else can help you guard it. Maybe thatís just a fucking excuse & this little giblet of stuff is what love is or maybe Iím just high.
 
 

shdgr

Itís hot & I canít stand the heat. Iím lying in bed & I donít want to move. I donít want to get up until it rains. My body feels like itís partially mended itself with the bed & I donít have the strength to discourage it from doing it more. Iím going to become one with the mattress & be pissed on & fucked on by strangers at night. Iíll absorb their smells until Iím indistinguishable from them. If it rains maybe it would melt the room away & then soothe me into something. Make my body swell to a normal size or maybe explode my cracking shell. Take me to the next stage of my evolution.
 
 

Wet Earth

Itís raining & we wonít be able to touch the wet earth or weíll die. Weíre tired of watching the rain hit the bedroom window. We want to be outside for no particular reason other than that we canít. The rainís letting up, so we go downstairs & sit on the porch. Weíre lying down on the grey wooden slats. Sheís to my left with parts of her body lapping over top of me, but the invasion of my space feels comforting instead of annoying. Sheís soft like a pillow & sometimes I think I might actually love her & now is one of those times. I can feel the motion of her breathing (even though I canít hear it) & itís very soothing to me. It reminds me of something; Iím not sure what, but it must have been a million years ago. The rainís stopped & I slide our bodies to the edge of the porch so weíre looking over at a concrete walkway with our heads hanging off the porch. Iím holding on to the ledge & can feel the water trying to enter me through my palms. "I want to save one of them," she says, her chin punching into my shoulder as she speaks. Her left hand is pointed out to the water way & her right hand is on my right shoulder. Iím staring at the waterway & there are two black sugar ants. Iím reaching out from the porchís safety to point towards an ant, but she slaps my hand saying, "No, you know better than that." Sheís right & I donít know why I tried to do it. "Look at that caterpillar," she says in a cute voice almost as if itís a puppy. Iím staring at it & itís light green with black spots & huge shimmery black eyes. Heís crawling slowly & a drop of water hits him & spikes explode out of his black spots & his body swells. I guess this is whatíll happen to me eventually. Iím scared.
 
 

4 hours old

It hurts & burns. Opening Eyes. I donít want to see this. Resisting, struggling to breathe, choking on air. Shivering. Too weak to scream.
 
 

a girl

She doesnít really want a boyfriend, just a friend. She just doesnít feel like she can trust anyone she doesnít spend huge amounts of time with & she canít justify why anyone would spend time with her unless they want to fuck her, so she gives them what they want even though it feels like a chore.
 
 

Adolescence

He has too many scars for his age, though maybe if he was older some would fade away. Theyíre all self-inflicted (some more so than others) to remind him of things. Usually to remind him of how much of an idiot he is or that heís a bad judge of character or too willing to believe liars. He hopes the pain will teach him a lesson & looking at the scars will help him remember everything he needs to know, but maybe heís just too stupid.
 
 

A-doll

She has a perfect body. Itís free of scars & in proportion to a dollís. Sheís the only angel that had her wings surgically removed & fell flawlessly. Sheís so beautiful she seems to cast off a soft light & hurts to look directly at. She canít really blend in with humans & has trouble deciding what to do with herself.
 
 

again

Iím in the mall & Iím not sure why because I really donít like this place. Itís not even a scruffy kids' mall. Itís a nice slick young urban professional mall & there are only a few teens here & theyíre all high class suburban. Iím looking for one of those gray camouflage t-shirts, but I keep forgetting why Iím here & wander around wherever the girl Iím with wants to go. I suddenly feel very lost & useless & valueless for no reason I can link to any particular thing or event. I feel like Iím going to cry & I want to do it alone & I donít want to talk to anybody. I want to go to a bathroom, but I donít want to have to talk to a clerk about it. Iím looking at a brochure map of the mall by the counter to find out where the most obscure public bathroom is & the clerk comes up to me & asks if she can help me & I start to cry & I put the brochure down & start running away. Running & worming through people down an escalator, my silver jacket lifting up behind me like some kind of cape. Thereís a woman in a red dress whoís also running just like me. Her tears are a little more obvious than mine. Eventually she stops at a stroller where her child appears to have been abandoned & I stop at the same time so Iíll be associated with her instead of accosted. Iím walking as quick as I can to the bathroom & my hairís blowing back a little. When I get to the bathroom itís empty & itís clean. I sit in a corner leaning against a wall with my left shoulder under the counter & the momentís already almost passed & my eyes are getting dry. The tile floor is cold & my palms are sucking the cool in. I kind of wish I was with someone who could just hold me still & make me go to sleep & that I was a teenager again with her.
 
 

Aia

Her name is Aia & sheís my daughter or at least I pretend sheís my daughter. Sheís not human, but I love her (& maybe thatís why I love her). Sheís this blackish blue color & she changes shapes & sometimes she looks like a Geiger-esque alien, but sheís still always a little rubbery & soft & squishy & snuggable. Her favorite thing to eat is blue jello in a glass. She projects her mouth into the bottom of the glass & swirls it around like a blender, playing with the texture to entertain herself.
    Every morning I work with her to try to get her to shape on purpose instead of the random momentary emotional gratification or self-entertainment ways she normally does. Sheís three years old, but she canít really talk very well because she doesnít stay in forms with vocal chords enough to really practice like a human baby would.
    All of my friends know about her (she wonít let herself be hidden in the apartment) & my girlfriend Stacy actually only works part-time so she can spend more time with her. I think sheís semi-afraid to or feels guilty to leave Aia alone, which is something I had no choice but to get over years ago if I wanted to keep her. Aia goes to bed at nine & thatís when we go out & run errands & do whatever.
    Itís 9:30 now & me & Stacy are going to a show & Iím locking the bottom door (itís a secured building) when our friend Jacob comes up. He wants to see Aia for some reason & Iím like, "Aiaís asleep. She goes to bed at nine."
    He says, "I want to see if I can snort her in me, or inject a piece of her, or swallow part of her."
    I know heís high & heís just looking for a way to get higher & for some reason thinks Aia is the way, but I still want to kill him for what he just said. I want to cut a hole in the back of his skull & rip his brain out. I just say, "What the fuck is the matter with you?" & I put my keys away.
    Jacobís running his left hand through his hair slowly & violently. "Aw, man, I shouldnít have said that. Iím sorry. Can I see Aia?"
    "No, god damn it. Why donít you just go home & sleep off whatever youíre on."
    "Yeah, sleeping it off is a good idea. Can I do it at your place?"
    "No.... Look, weíre in a hurry; weíre going to a show. If you want to talk or something tomorrow I get home around seven-thirty."
    "Yeah, okay." Heís just looking me in the eyes for a second & then his right eye starts twitching & then he leaves.
    We go to the show & Iím not sure if the band actually sucks or if Iím just preoccupied with Jacob & his interest in Aia. I end up drinking three Long Island Ice Teas just to make me start to think everything is okay & then Stacy drives us home.
    When we get home, Aiaís gone & Iím freaking out & breaking lamps. I donít know what Iím supposed to do because you canít report a missing shape-changing baby that doesnít officially exist to the police. I have Stacy (sheís usually the one who freaks out & that sheís calm or in shock now is really beneficial to me) drive me to Jacobís even though our apartment wasnít broken into (at least not by force) so I donít even think he couldíve been the one who did it. But the way he was acting, I know he must somehow know whatís going on.
    Iím trying to remain calm. I pound on his door & open it in the same motion & heís lying on his couch watching tv. "Where the fuck is Aia?" Iím saying it very calmly as I walk towards him, with the same calmness Iíll gouge his eyes out with if he starts to fuck around.
    "Oh, shit. Sheís already gone? Man, you shouldíve let me see her." He sits up & I get on one knee & put my hands on the sides of his head.
    "Who the fuck has her?"
    "Timmyís been selling this blue crystal goo for a couple weeks now. This stuff that makes you feel god-like. Thatís what I was on. & sometimes it blares you with these visions & I saw what looked like a full size Aia." I pull my hands off his head & his skin seems a little too jiggly when I do & that makes his story seem fucked up enough to be true.
    "Where does this guy live?"
    "536 East Second."
    I leave & Stacy stayed in the car & I tell her where we need to go & she drives & when we get there I get the tire iron out of the trunk before I go up to the house. I go & I pry open the door & walk in & go upstairs to where thereís some noise & I open the door & Iím about to ask where Aia is when I see her. Half of her is in a bucket & the other half is in a stack of vials.
    The guy putting her in vials (Timmy, I guess) turns to me & says, "Oh, I didnít think youíd find me." His skin is rippling as he talks & the ripples come together two inches above his left eye in a bulge that dissipates. Iím just staring at him & Aia in shock. He puts his right hand up & his fingers elongate like theyíre on fire & then he jumps towards me.
    I smack his hand with the tire iron before he can hit me & thereís a crack like bones breaking, but the flesh is all rubbery & his hand is forming back so I slam my body against his. Heís laughing at me & coiling his arms around me like snakes & his mouth is projecting out towards my face. I take my thumbs & push them hard in his eyes & they sink down into his head. His arms uncoil & his mouth goes back to human as he kicks me off him & puts his hands to his eyes.
    I grab the tire iron & start stabbing it down through his chest into the floor. He has nine holes in his chest that are bleeding & his rubbery skin is trying to fill them, so I shove the tire iron through his head where his third eye would be.
    I grab an empty cardboard box & scoop the vials in & take the tire iron out of his head & put it in the box & grab the bucket of my daughter & wipe my fingerprints off the doorknobs & go out & get in the car.
    Stacyís saying, "What the fuck happened?" & I can smell that I must be covered with blood.
    "Just drive the fucking car."
    Sheís leaning over the parking brake, her face straight in front of me staring in my eyes & touching the right side of my face gently with her left hand, asking, "Are you okay?"
    "Drive the fucking car."
    She pulls away from me & drives us home.
 
 

Amanda

Sheís shaking & I grab her & hold her still. Itís almost more shocking to her that I can hold her still than that she almost just died. She wants to be flipping out & to be crying & to be going crazy, but it goes against her strong-powerful-in-control image. I just say that everythingís okay now & suddenly it is. Her eyes dry without ever crying & her voice stops quivering & she pushes me away.
 
 

Anti-Depressants

I just took two of the pills that make me feel cold & sad. Iím knotted up in my covers but my teeth are still chattering. I think I might be dying for real this time & Iím more scared than ever because I actually do want to die this time & Iím not going to get any help, but this hurts a lot more than I expected it to. My limbs wonít move & Iíve begun to dis-associate my body from whatever it is I actually am & itís as if Iíve blacked out now, but am still conscious & still exist. Iím not quite as distant as I want to be.
 
 

art book

My friend Katherine is at my house & it makes everything feel all right. Weíve consciously been avoiding each other for about two years & most of that time (for me at least) because of feeling guilty for not being in touch with her for so long (not that I donít remember why we stopped spending time together, just that it seems so silly & juvenile to me now that I donít know how things got that extreme). Sheís one of my favorite people of all time & itís nice to be with her again. Weíre looking through this art book I have with pictures of these bright colored monsters sculpted out of food & food related items. Thereís something very scary & organic & real feeling about them. Thereís one picture whose main colors are red & white & has these vicious looking milk cartons that look like both firemen & arsonists. Thereís this one image of this corn creature where there are these little flecks of blood around its mouth & for me thatís the most disturbing image of all, because the way itís done is so subtle & normal & real; like something you want to consume that you feel in the end consumes you physically or emotionally.
    Katherineís insisting she needs to take a shower for some reason & so she does & borrows some clothes. Then I need to shower because I feel that otherwise Iíd smell in comparison. When I get out of the shower, sheís sleeping on my bed & I put on a cd of blurps & bleeps & volume swells type stuff & lie down to sleep next to her.
 
 

bended

Iím lying on the floor & sheís lying on the bed & the only light in the room is from a lamp obscured by boxes so itís very shadowy. That amount of shadowy where patterns seem to start to move & blur & become incredibly creepy. I get up on my knees & lean myself onto the bed. She seems so beautiful & out of place here & the shadows make her seem like sheíll change shape into something more hideous & appropriate at any moment. I take her hand & she turns & looks at me & her eyes seem clear & aware & I feel like they could consume me. Mouths could open from the center of her pupils & eat my soul. I say, "I want to fuck you," in the most insecure voice Iíve probably ever had. she lifts her right leg stretching it & curls it into a ball. Itís bending in four places beneath her jeans, like she has four joints in her leg instead of just one knee. she says, "It wouldnít be appropriate," & yawns & her face stretches & bubbles a little.
 
 

Box

Everything seems gray & dimly lit before I open the door. Everything is bright behind him & the light rushing in hurts my eyes. He dresses like he thinks heís a rock star & maybe even he is a rock star for a few hours a week. His shirt looks like an american flag & he has a black leather jacket & elliptical silver glasses & tall sculpted black hair. His right hand is propped against the doorjamb & heís leaning with his right leg crossing over his left at the ankle. He reaches into his jacket with his left hand & pulls out a golden box. "This is for you," his voice is soft & a little high & he has a new york accent. I donít remember putting my hands out, but they are & heís setting the golden box on them. Iím staring at the box & I hear him whispering, "Iím sorry, I have to go." Thereís a sound like beating wings & when I look up heís gone. I close the door, but itís still bright inside.
 
 

btr

These kids saw me & recognized me today. I shouldnít call them kids because theyíre college graduates & married now (& the same age as me). Fuck. Iím so jealous. I canít imagine being able to do any of that. I want to see what theyíre like at home. I want to be the same way.
 
 

daybed

    Sheís in town because sheís visiting her mother for the holidays, but for some reason sheís spending a lot of time with me. Weíre both really high on pills & lying with/on each other half passed out on my bed. I really think I might love this girl & I even actually told her yesterday. Sheís been having this real hard time deciding if she should cheat on her boyfriend & whether or not she already has. Itís really hard for me to give her advice because I think cheating is cruel, but I think she should break up with the boy & move in with me even though she has thousands of hours & dollars invested in her other relationship. Weíre so messed up right now itís obvious we canít have sex & I say to her, "I know you canít have sex with me because that would be cheating on him. But could you maybe not have sex with anybody besides me because that would be cheating on me?"
    "Huh?"
    "I donít want to fuck you until/unless you break up with him. But I donít want you to fuck anybody besides me anymore."
    "Oh."
    "Is that too demanding? Is that too much to ask?"
    "No. I just.... Can you hear that? When I close my eyes they start humming."
    I embrace her & squeeze her a little (which is also with all my strength right now) & say, "No, but I think Iím in love with you."
 
 

diamond ring

    She wears a diamond ring on her left hand every day, so I can never say anything to her. Itís not on today & I ask her out to dinner in a way that almost simply informs her that we are & Iím scaring myself. Itís the most aggressive thing Iíve ever done towards a girl. I am passive & submissive & weak & shy.
    When I meet her, sheís wearing a tight red dress with black buttons. Buttons are sexy. I donít know anything about her & donít have anything to say. When she orders, she orders the most typical safe thing on the menu. Itís really upsetting to me.
    She starts talking about how last time she ate here she had three cookies for dinner.
    Our dinner comes & I really havenít said anything. I donít know what I can say. "Excuse me, things arenít really going very well right now for me & I donít have anything I can offer you, but can I just be physically near to you until you disgust me?" I donít think sheíd find that acceptable.
    We finish eating & I pay for my dinner & the tip & she pays for hers & we walk towards where we both live mainly in silence. "Do you smoke?" she asks in a rising timid voice that sounds even younger than she is.
    "No. Do you?"
    "No." Her shoulders sink down like she just used her last possible conversation topic. Weíre in front of her building.
    "Well, I guess Iíll see you later then," I say reaching out my hand, hoping she wonít take it, but will kiss me instead. Or maybe she will take my hand & lead me up to her room & store me under her bed after I become worthless to her (which I probably already am).
    She shakes my hand saying, "Good night," & turns away walking.
 
 

Dolly

We have this relationship where weíre not quite lovers. Maybe itís like the relationship between a brother & sister or two real best friends; I donít know how either of those work. We each allow each other a certain invasion of personal space & privacy & are allowed to touch each otherís skin. I would do anything in the world she asked me to. Be anything she wants me to be.
 
 

Dying in Africa

Thereís a storm & the boat is quaking & I get up out of my sleep & go on deck. There are no stars, but the lightning flashes so often itís easy to see. The wind is ripping down the mast & Iím not as scared of this as I should be. In one of the lightning flashes I see that weíre headed towards land. I go to the wheel of the ship & the man standing there is holding it steady even though the strain on his arms makes them look like theyíll burst. He stars screaming at me barely loud enough to hear over the wind, "Weíll be dying on the coast of Africa. At least when we come back itíll be as something beautiful."
 
 

electric girl

The lights are dimming & blinking out & buzzing & snapping. It makes everything feel really creepy & it makes the little vines in the wallpaper look like theyíre moving & alive. A man comes in wearing a black suit & says, "The kid talked. He put her in the electrical lines." "We canít hold her there can we?" Everything goes dark & there are several blue flashes like lightning. She appears in the center of the room, her body naked & hairless & emitting blue light & crackling. Sheís smiling & staring straight at me. She stretches her arms out & bursts apart in the opposite directions lighting the walls on fire.
 
 

elevator

Weíre rising in a glass elevator not particularly quickly. Itís along the outside of the building & with each floor the building seems less monumentous. Eventually it becomes clear that weíre going higher than the other buildings & when I turn toward the building weíve already passed its roof & are still ascending. One of the other riders leans out (the interior glass wall is only three feet high) & throws down a red superball. I sit in a corner & try to chew my fingernails (itís not my nervous habit, I never really felt the need for one before), but theyíre too cleanly cut. The ball comes back up & the passenger catches it cleanly. We penetrate a cloud & I have my eyes clenched shut when the elevator stops. I open them & the doors are open & the others are getting out. Weíre in a building again now, so I walk out of the elevator. The floor is that polished granitey stuff & thereís recessed soft lighting & all the windows just give views of white. Iím vaguely following the others & thereís two steps down & then in front of me is some sort of coffee shop delicatessen. I ask for coleslaw & potato salad & the clerk gets them in white styrofoam containers & puts them in a white paper bag with a napkin & plastic fork & says, "Four-eighty-four," at the same time it lights up in blue digital on the cash register. I pay him & walk away & sit in a corner to eat.
 
 

Ellis

Thereís this girl named Ellis who used to be my best friend. Sheís totally cool & I really hate that I lost touch with her. I still hear about her every once in a while. She doesnít have a permanent address or phone number & just stays at what seem to be pretty random peopleís houses. I always seem to be one step behind her. I just want to have one more adventure with her. One more time where we almost die or at least I almost die & maybe we decide if we should live together forever or never see each other again. Just one last brutally honest confrontation to decide everything forever & ever. To put us both in our place.
 
 

escape attempt

    Iím visiting a friend or I was visiting a friend, but now Iím staying with some people I barely know. I donít know off hand what school this is, but it must be a pretty nice one because these kids live in an on campus apartment that actually has a dishwasher. Thereís me & the kids who live here (though Iím not sure how many or which ones they are) & maybe about five more people all eating some mushrooms & some pills. Iím messed up enough I canít remember if it started out as or has now become morning, but itís mid-morning now either way & we all decide to leave the apartment. Iím not even really able to notice much of anything beside the fact that my lips & eyes feel funny & that I have this weird after taste in my mouth (presumably from the salad dressing I used on a sandwich I made either last night or this morning). Itís awful gray outside & Iím not sure whether or not itís very cold, but everyone else is dressed in comparable degrees of warmth to me, so I assume Iím okay.
    We go into this stone building that seems like it might be a gymnasium, but inside itís a totally empty room around 30 feet tall with the walls painted black halfway up & then red up to the continuous row of windows lining the ceiling. The room is echoing as we walk across the floor (the same way a racquetball court does) & then we walk through a little doorway & weíre in the student union. There are all these little stores & Iím paranoid that Iím going to go into one & accidentally pick something up & put it in my pocket & then theyíll say Iím shoplifting & Iíll have to deal with the police in the state Iím in & I donít want to think about that as much as I just did. We go into this coffee shop type place & itís all black & red too. Thereís this girl I see whoís not in our group & sheís sitting at a table alone not drinking coffee, not reading, not doing anything, with her arms lying straight out in front of her. Iím attracted to her for some reason & it strikes me as really strange because just yesterday I was thinking how Iím not really into new girls. Iím only interested in a couple girls who already have an established history with me or girls who look significantly similar to them. But this girl is new, brand new. Iíve never seen her before & I donít know anything about her. Iím thinking that sheís not new for me, but for the whole world. That sheís fresh & beautiful & scarless to the world & was born flawless in her early twenties. Iím thinking about going over & talking to her when she stands up & walks over to me. She sits down on the table in front of me (several people are sitting on the table because the tables arenít big enough to seat us all otherwise). She reaches her hand out & picks up mine & says, "Hello, I donít know you. My nameís Melissa." Her features are highly stylized like she comes from the future or that could be an effect from my intoxication. I canít really explain what she looks like or even what sheís wearing because every time I blink she completely disappears. All I know is that sheís beautiful. "Iím Michael Ian Sorrel." Iím still shaking her hand & I stop & I start making circles around the base knuckle of her index finger with my thumb. I canít even feel that Iím doing it because my entire bodyís so numb. My visionís going a little bit blurry, probably because my eyes are crossing, & Iím breathing through my mouth & I think I might start drooling & look like a total tard. "I like you," I say letting go of her hand & wrapping my arms around her waist, "Iím sorry I had to be so intoxicated for our first meeting." I realize what Iím doing & in a jerky motion pull my arms out from around her & sit up straight against my chair & close my eyes so sheís less likely to try to gouge them out. She laughs at me & puts her left hand on the right side of my head just above the ear & runs it through the tangles of my short hair. It feels like a thousand syringes taking blood samples from the side of my head. I open my eyes & say, "Thank you," & she says, "My pleasure." I close my eyes again & theyíre making that bass rumbling sound they do when they try to roll back in my head & I love that sound. I wish I could record it so I could listen to it until somebody near me killed me for annoying them so much. Iím just sitting there with the girl (we might be talking to each other, Iím not paying attention) for I donít know how long & then my groupís leaving so I say, "I have to go, but I know your nameís Melissa & I like you & I donít like many humans. Maybe Iíll see you later." Iím already wandering away, but Iím still staring at her & sheís giving this cute little fingers touching palm wave & saying, "Uh-huh." Sheís out of sight & Iím with my group & weíre outside & itís very gray out & Iím noticing that even though the concreteís dry, the ground is muddy. One of the girls from the group is starting to hang on me like sheís mistaking me for a high school boyfriend. I normally feel really fucking weird about physical contact, but Iím kind of pretending this girl is Melissa, My-Lissa. I bet her dad use to call her My-Lissa & that Iíd better not because it would make her feel uncomfortable & maybe her dad used to abuse her because it seems like all cool girlsí dads did. Weíre at this park & it has some statues & these big oak trees full of green leaves & I have this thing right now where I think theyíre fake because I recognize this park from some scene in a movie or tv show or maybe just my past & it doesnít seem like the kind of thing where real trees would be used. So me & the girl whoís now holding my hand (Sheís wearing blue jeans, I hate blue jeans. Theyíre so "Iím a drone clone who does what theyíre supposed to." They donít express anything & they donít look good & they just arenít cool. Or maybe they are cool & Iím not & thatís the problem.) climb up into one of the trees & Iím simultaneously having fun & deathly afraid of flying or falling or both. I read this story about a guy on panther mushrooms who kept climbing on something & falling off because he knew it had happened, but wasnít sure if it was in the past or future & kept figuring each time he should go ahead & do it to be sure. Iím holding on to the tree oh so tight with my left hand & Iíve got my right arm draped across the girl (weíre sitting on the same big branch). This is one of those moments where I feel like my brainís about to pop out of my head & get all dirty on the ground & walked on before I notice, but thatís alright with me. Iím perfectly happy & itís not dependent on anyone or anything except the chemicals inside my body & itís really wonderful to know (remember) that drugs can do that & that loads of people do it & sometimes I forget. The girlís talking at me & I guess Iím spacing out further than usual because sheís squeezing me & asking if Iím okay & I kiss her on the mouth with closed lips to keep her quiet for a second. I close my eyes & I feel like Iím spinning as I pull myself away from her. I feel like someone cast me into a void & then I remember Iím sitting in a tree or was last time I checked & I open my eyes & I still am in the tree, but I lost my euphoric moment. Iím looking at the girl whose hand Iím holding & I feel bad that I donít like her more. Sheís pretty & stuff & she seems nice & she likes me I guess (at least when sheís high) & that should be more than enough reason for me to want to be her boyfriend. It actually is more than enough reason based on almost every girl Iíve gone out with before, but I donít want to spend just enough time with her to start to care when she admits she doesnít dig me as much as most other boys or something. If sheíd be willing to be with me forever instead of always (a very subtle difference, I know), Iíd probably be very happy or at least as happy as Iíll ever be (at least with her). But even though I donít know her & canít even remember her name, I feel like Iím already cheating on her because I know I would with Melissa &/or maybe two or three other girls from the past who I actually maybe really do love even though I donít know what that means. I use to think I had some test or something about who would I live for (because Iíd die for anybody for any excuse 90% of the time) & whoíd be mad at me for dying & then it turned into something about backing up suicides with adequate reasons & then it was nothing at all, which is what it is now. I remember I told this one girl that Iím still in love with or something (even though I havenít seen her in years & donít know if sheís married or dead), that I loved her & she said, "I love you too, but Iím not in love with you." I thought I was going to die right there right then on the phone & I tried to kill myself with drugs when I hung up, but I didnít own enough & I was too upset to leave my room to try to find more. I donít ever want to do that to anybody. Maybe thatís why I go out with anybody who likes me & try to show them they shouldnít (was that an epiphany?). I say to the girl (though weíve been talking on & off for I donít know how long because my sense of time is distorted, this is the first thing I actually plan to say), "You know that Iím just visiting here & you can only take me so seriously & Iím not very stable or all that great anyway, right?" Sheís looking at me with that "I heard you, but itíll take my brain a minute to figure out what you said" look & then she shows me her teeth in a smile & says, "Of course," like itís obvious, which I guess it is; but I was secretly hoping she was really falling in love with me in that still saying "what if..." after youíre married with three kids kind of way. The drug effects kick back in like a ringing bell lowered around me. Iím looking out & the edge of this branch goes over a statue of some man in a victorian suit setting a dove free & I want to climb out & drop on to it & in my mind I do & I land on the dove which grows to be the right size for me to sit on & it breaks off & goes up & down in the air for a second like a rollercoaster & then smashes nose first into the ground. I know realityíll never beat that, so I donít even try, but I do hop down out of the tree & stand up & fall down slowly & lightly enough that I donít even bounce. Iím totally paranoid that the group is gone, but I see one of them & I rush over & Iím just in time because itís starting to get dark & weíre going back to the apartment. Somebodyís trying to convince me that I should go get my car so Iím like, "(A) I canít drive right now & (B) when we get to my car weíre already there," & now I realize that they thought this car parked on the corner is mine & it is the same kind & color, but itís not it, so we walk to the apartment. Once we get to the apartment everybodyís ready to sleep or at least try to sleep. Weíre all picking out spaces & Iím sleeping in a ball on a counter under some cabinets.
    Itís not morning, but the only light on is in the bathroom in the hall, so it simulates that early morning dimness. Iím crouching up looking around & sleeping on the sofa bed is this guy I think I knew from high school named Jon & thereís this other guy sleeping on the bed with his arm draped over him. I want to say, "Hey, Jon, that guyís sleeping with you," but then I realize itís probably not news to him. Itís just really shocking to me that he in particular is queer. I look over at the other kitchen wall & thereís this girl whoís awake & sitting on the counter over the dishwasher next to the sink. Sheís really tan & has short black extreme hair & looks cute in that kid down the street a few years younger than you kind of way. Iíve met her before; weíre actually friends. Her name is Elsie. She whispers fairly loudly, "Heh, Michael, come íere," & sheís patting her right hand on the counter. I get up & I have to walk around somebody sleeping on the floor to get to her. I sit down & she puts her right arm around my shoulders & I slip my left arm behind her back resting my hand at her waist in response without even noticing. "So how was your day?" she asks in a speaking voice, but at a quiet level. "I liked it. I liked it a lot, you?" "I canít really complain," she squeezes me against her a little, "I enjoyed it myself. I kind of wish Iíd gotten to spend more time with you instead of Jeffrey Fuck," sheís glaring towards a boy sleeping in a recliner. "I know what you mean. I mean, I like the girl I was with, I canít even remember her name...." "Erin. Erin Frimodt." "Yeah, Erin. Sheís a nice girl & all & itís flattering that she, or anybody for that matter," I just realized Iím still not sober, "likes me, but there are other people who Iíd rather spend my time with. Especially because Iím not just looking for somebody to have sex with regularly any more like I was a couple years ago. Iím not even sure if Iím looking for someone to really have sex with at all. Just, you know, somebody whoís lost like me & we can give each other some clues &.... Basically just a friend & maybe Iím allowed to kiss them every once in a while when I want to." "Youíre funny," sheís laughing a little & shaking her head. "What?" Sheís smiling real big, but without teeth, "Youíre just so self-involved. Itís like you think the world would be lost without you." "Are you saying it wouldnít be?" "No. It might be. I might be. Itís not like youíre the only one going through some suicidal emotional crisis. I donít know if everyone does & I know most people donít let it get as far as you have, they usually settle for something before thing go too far & donít even try to think that makes you better than them or anything." "Oh no. I know that Iíd settle for anything if I thought I could deal with it for over a month. Fuck, I donít like traveling across the country mooching off of my friends or in this case someone I donít even really know. I just donít know what else to do, because when I stand still itís like everything from the past is gonna catch up to me & then Iíll have to kill myself to avoid it. I donít even know what it is Iím so scared of anymore. But Iím just so used to it & so locked into it I donít even know what else I could do anymore. You know. Itís like I met this girl this morning -- God, a lotís happened in one day. I met this girl named Melissa in that coffee place & I really wanted to spend more time with her, but.... Fuck, I lost my point." Iíve been staring straight ahead while Iíve been talking & I turn to Elsie & her headís resting on my shoulder & her free handís limp on my lap & I know sheís asleep.
    I kiss her on the top of the head & she says, "Thank you," & knocks me down to lie with her with my back against her breasts & stomach & her arm around me. I tell her, "I want to say something to make you hate me, because I donít want to ever hurt you. I donít ever want to hurt anybody." "I know," she has this voice thatís a perfect blend between a mother & childís. "& I donít want anybody to hurt me anymore either," Iím whispering it & crying a little. "I know," she says in the same mother/child tone, "just go to sleep, youíre okay right now." I want to call her a liar & I want to runaway from everything forever, but maybe sheíll let me stay with her a couple days because I donít have anything else to do & I donít think she wants to hurt me & her body feels nice & warm.
 
 

factory

I got a job. Actually my friend Pete got me a job. The factory he worked at is closing & they needed to hire some temps for a couple days to clean the building & it pays $12 an hour. I get there & itís dark & itís raining slightly & all the workers are finishing off a closing party. I find Pete & he says, "Heh, man, see all that food over there?" Heís pointing to a huge box of mainly junk food. "The boss is going to take whateverís left. You have a car & I donít so I figured you could help me smuggle it out & we can split it." I canít afford to eat regularly & am down to a skin & bones eighty-five pounds. "Yeah, that sounds good," I say & weíre already each lifting an end of the box (itís two feet tall & two feet wide & five feet long). We take it out to the loading dock where for some reason there are a bunch of people dressed in black smoking cigarettes. Itís still drizzling & we try to figure out some way to keep the food dry, but quickly give up. I jump down the six feet to the parking lot & Pete pushes the box over the edge & I slide it down the wall while he gets down. We carry it to my car & put it in the back seat. Iím going paranoid about the boss might see the food in my car, so me & Pete decide to skip work & go to his house instead. We get there & eat some corn chips & get drunk off cheap vodka. In the morning the phoneís ringing & I answer it & itís Peteís boss & heís saying he was hoping I would get more done last night & could I get in as soon as possible. I donít even wake Pete up before I go to the factory. I get there & the boss is telling me that I need to sweep out the whole place & clean the bathrooms & then he leads me to this weird trough built in the floor filled with green slime & says, "But the most important thing is to get this stuff out of here. I donít care what you do with it." Then he leaves. I turn a big trash can sideways & put it in the trough & get as much of the slime in it as I can & then Iím scooping the rest into it using a dust pan & by some miracle I seem to get it all in without getting it on me. Iím dragging the trash can out to the loading dock & when I get there, thereís a mack-truck. The truck is facing the loading dock & in the driverís seat with the window rolled down is Ming the Merciless with eyes wide open & hands tight on the wheel like heís jacked up on speed. I aim the trash can & when I spill it the splash first hits his windshield, but then I correct it so it goes in his window. He rolls up his window & gives me a dirty look more along the lines of "Shut up smart ass" than "I am going to kill you." I go back in & am in the bathroom washing my hands violently in case I got any of the green stuff on them. The boss steps in & closes the door quickly as he steps back as if he saw me doing something vulgar. I dry my hands & step out & the boss is standing there. Iím about to say, "Iím sorry I havenít gotten more done," when he says, "Good work, you can go home now," & slips two hundred dollar bills into my shirt pocket.
 
 

Fatherís Day

The telephoneís ringing & itís annoying me because itís waking me up from a nice long sleep. I get up & walk the three steps to answer it. "Hello." "Happy Fatherís Day!" Itís a womanís voice, very youthful & happy. "Thanks, but Iím not a father." "You wouldnít think so would you?" Her voice is all vicious & bitter now. Iím about to say, "What the fuck are you talking about?" when I hear her hang up. I hang up the phone & go back to bed trying to figure out if I really might have an illegitimate child somewhere.
 
 

Flawless

Iím cutting the imperfections of my skin out to purify my body. I want to be as clean as I can be for my ascension. I want to realize the truth completely. I want to be filled & healed until Iím flawless, without scars. I just want to be what I used to be.
 
 

friendís house

Iím visiting him for the first time in a long time & the first time since he has his house. Itís like a club inside. Thereís a stage slightly behind you & to the left as you walk in. In the back it splits into two levels, the top is filled with records & cdís & the bottom has pool tables. I go to play pool & am putting some of the balls on the table when I realize some of them arenít balls, but these twenty-six sided semi-translucent crystal things. "Whatís this all about?" I ask holding one up. "Oh, I lost some of the pieces. These make for a more interesting game anyway, because sometimes they break."
 
 

general store

Iím in one of those stores that wants to be all rustic. It has all this gray unfinished railroad tie type wood & looks like a barn & makes it feel colder than it actually is. They have all these tables set up with those woven parkas & blankets made out of the same stuff on them with various stripe-ish designs woven in. Thereís this girl in the store that I like. Sheís just another customer or potential customer like me & Iíve had a crush on her & seen her in town randomly for a couple of years. Sheís the only thing in the store of any interest to me. I donít want to stare at her because it makes me feel like a jerk, so Iím wandering through the store looking at the floor & occasionally looking up at her, but always avoiding eye contact. Thereís a dime on the floor & I pick it up & then I see a penny on the floor so I pick that up too. Iím in the back corner of the store when she comes running up to me & sheís holding her left hand up in the a-okay sign holding something between her thumb & index finger. She says, "Look, I found a nickel!" I go, "Thatís nothing," & pull the change out of my pocket. "I found eleven cents." I see a quarter on the floor about ten feet away & I say pointing, "Look, thereís a quarter."
 
 

Girl beside me in Spanish Class

    I want to go out with her for no particular reason. I donít know her very well, just enough to know we donít have a lot in common. That sheís a college bound girl & Iím a boy who likes to hallucinate & is doing it right now. She might be a JV cheerleader. She has blond hair & these glasses she puts on so she can read the black board & a notebook divided into sections & pretty teeth that she shows off with the way she chews gum. I donít want to just go on a date with her, I want to be her boyfriend for six months (my longest relationship ever lasted two months). After all, maybe sheíd have a use for me to annoy her parents or make her feel worldly & dangerous. Class is kind of over, but the bell hasnít rung & I go to talk to her & Iím getting all paranoid so the first thing I say is, "You think Iím on drugs donít you?"
    "No."
    "You just think Iím some druggie loser whoís going to be a failure, huh? Well I get good grades. I get Aís & Bís, you didnít know that, huh?"
    "No."
    "Do you think acidís a hard drug?"
    "Huh?"
    "LSD. Iím on it right now. Itís a lot of fun."
    She stops chewing her gum & is staring at my eyes (I know my pupils are pulsing) with her mouth hung open. The bell rings & she leaves. I donít think she loves me anymore.
 
 

Gun

I should buy a gun. Then when I meet a jerk, I could just kill him/her instead of having to deal with their retarded asses over & over. Or maybe I should start a plague for them involving bleeding open wounds & paralysis & an inability to swallow. Theyíll suffer for themselves just like theyíve always tried to make other people suffer for them. Or maybe I should just buy a gun.
 
 

Half & Half

    Iím on the train to somewhere & the woman Iím with acts like sheís my mother. The inside of the train is really nice. It has this carpeting thatís mainly red & gold & the whole feeling of it reminds me of a really nice hotelís dining room. Weíre sitting at a booth (there arenít any actual tables, just booths) waiting for our waiter. Iím drinking half & half from the little white plastic containers & itís making me high because I drank a lot of it once when I was hallucinating & now its taste flashes me back. I get up & walk to an empty booth & pull the front of my shirt up & lie down on the table & absorb its soothing cool. I realize what Iím doing; so I get back up & go back to my booth, where the waiterís taking my signiís order. I sit down & Iím about to burst out laughing because I think my waiter plays Alfred on the Batman cartoon. He turns to me, "& for you, sir?"
    "Do you have blueberry muffins?"
    "No, sir, Iím afraid we donít."
    "Well, I just want cake & water then."
    Heís looking at me like he wants me to know that he knows Iím fucked up & itís inappropriate. Heís wrong, because the truth is itís never appropriate for me to be sober because I canít handle reality if I am. "What kind would you like this evening?"
    Iím massaging my eyes with my middle & index fingers & Iím way to into it to answer him.
    "Red velvet," my girlfriend (I hate that word) says.
    When I open my eyes, sheís eating a salad & my cake & water (the water has no ice in it for some reason; maybe I ordered it like that, I sometimes do) are in front of me. When she chews, her face looks all nutty. It seems like sheís trying to transform herself into another girl & Iím not sure, but it might be working. Her salad has cherry tomatoes cut in half & croutons & I wish I had croutons; but I donít so I start eating the cake. The cake really doesnít seem to have any flavor & I donít think I can drink the water or Iíll drown. I donít want to be confined & my backís starting to hurt & I find my head & right shoulder & left hand hit hard by the window at the end of the booth when I try to get out. I can feel a lump forming above my right eye & Iím crying because it hurts & Iím listening to my blood circulate. Iím sitting on my hands & biting my lower lip & have my eyes closed & am trying to remain calm.
    I feel fingers on the right side of my face & open my eyes quickly. I could swear itís a different girl than when I closed my eyes. She looks over to her right & it takes me a second, but then I turn my head to the left & my friend Josh is leaning into the booth & heís close enough that I might accidentally kill (or kiss) him. He seems bigger & scarier than I remember.
    "So whatís going on, big guy?" he says, his breath smelling faintly like cookies.
    "Nothing I know. Where are you going?"
    "To a movie at the stop coming up. Do you wanna go?"
    Heís right, there is a stop coming up & the train is moving very slowly. "Yeah, I want to; but let me find out if I can."
    "Okay." He walks off.
    I eat the rest of my cake & then get up & pull the girl out of the booth & start walking to the door & the waiter comes up to me & says, "Oh, let me get your check." He turns around & walks off. I know I donít have any money to pay with & Iím not sure how to get out of my dilemma. I turn to the girl & she doesnít seem to know what Iím thinking & she isnít offering the solutions I thought she would. I donít want to be in charge.
    The train stops & I rush to the door & my feet run out from under me when the waiter picks me up by the collar of my shirt from behind. He turns me to face him & heís talking, but I canít understand him. His skin looks very clear to me, like a delicate layer of plastic hermetically sealed to contain a violent yellow fluid. Heís disguised as a human (not even really disguised, just shaped like one). I push full force against his chest & I can feel my hands sinking into him, but the plastic holds & he falls. I walk to the door & get off the train even though the gap to the platform scares me. My hands smell like his plastic. Iím trying to get lost in the crowd & I do. I can feel my hair & fingernails growing & Iím looking for my girlfriend, but I canít remember what she looks like.
 
 

(halloween)

Iím living in my car again. Iíve been doing it on & off so much lately it doesnít feel substandard or deviant. Itís just a fact. My parents are so weird & I just canít deal with them sometimes & I have to spend time alone & this is the easiest way I know how. Itís Halloween & I really want to be able to give out candy, but I donít have a house or neighborhood to be at & I donít think peopleís parents will let kids come up to my car for candy even if I invent some story about my parents refusing to give out candy because they think itís pagan & this is the only way I can give out candy. I wish I had the same teen-life everybody else seems to have; it would be so much easier.
 
 

her

Weíre sitting on her bed sharing half a bowl of cereal (the only thing left to eat in her apartment). I wish she was my girlfriend so much, because I feel so much more comfortable with her right now than I ever have with any other girl in my life. But sheís all in love with two other boys, one of whom sheís engaged to & the other one whom she sleeps with two nights a week. I wish I could have someone like this every day when I get up. No need to speak or worry or hate, just like ? maybe love.
 
 

Her divinity is a lie

Sheís dead inside me now. Thereís nothing left to hate & nothing left to love. Sheís not in my dreams anymore. I canít sit around & hope & wait for her to save me. I have to save myself.
 
 

home

    Amyís with me in my room at my parentsí house. Sheís got a cd of primal screaming she brought with her that sheís putting on while simultaneously reading Jack Kerouacís Book of Dreams & saying, "I want to go back to Japan & go to the Museum of Modern Earth in inland Japan." Through my closed door I can hear my parents walking up the stairs & talking. Theyíre talking about me & Amy fucking, which we donít, & I hear my dad saying some rude phrase about me having my pants around my ankles & Iím embarrassed & I get on my bed & curl up in a ball against the wall. Amy sits next to me on the bed & rolls me on to my back & I can feel tears running down toward my ears. I start talking fairly quietly saying, "Oh my god. I canít believe they said that. I canít believe theyíre that rude & obnoxious & invasive & Iíve never noticed it before. How have I been able to live here this long? Iíve got to move out." Amyís saying something soothing & Iím starting to fall asleep & she asks me to set my alarm for 4:30 so she can get up for something & I do.
    The alarm goes off & when I look at my window itís already light out & Iím saying, "Fuck," because I realize I didnít change my clock back to eastern time since I got back from traveling & since itís really 7:30 we decide to blow off the day & go back to sleep.
 
 

hope

I think if I ever take LSD again Iím going to be sucked back in time. That Iíll either be 13 (the first time I ever did it) or 16 (when I started taking it chronically) again & everything since never happened or maybe just hasnít happened yet. I kind of want it to happen because Iím always feeling old lately, but Iím kind of scared because I donít know how well I could put up with all the crap of being a teenager all over again. I guess I didnít really put up with it last time, I just numbed it away for five years getting high more or less every day. It would make LSD seem even cooler & more powerful & lovable than it already does to me; so maybe I better start taking it chronically again, just in case.
 
 

house sitter

Iím at my parentsí old house. I havenít lived here & they havenít lived here for years, but through some fluke I landed a job house sitting here. Itís really freaky to me & I keep expecting to suddenly be in junior high again hoping that my first official girlfriend will call me (her parents are weird (at least thatís what she told me) so I canít call her & Iím embarrassed not about my parents finding out I have a girlfriend as much as them taking note of anything about my life in general. So she calls & then we meet somewhere instead of talking on the phone or sitting in living rooms like couples our age are supposed to). But everything just stays in the present & Iím not sure if Iím happy about that or not because as horrible & painful as teenlife can be, it is exciting. Iím standing outside by the driveway at this place where some rose bushes used to be, but now thereís just grass. My friend Amy pulls up in her car. She gets out & then leans back into her car pulling out a pile of clothes & walks over to me asking, "Are these yours?" "I donít think so, Should they be?" "I donít know. I saw them lying on a lawn half a block down & thought it looked like stuff youíd wear." Iím thumbing through what sheís holding & it does look like stuff Iíd wear. Itís suit pants & full button shirts in black & grays & a black velvet jacket. "Letís put it inside," I say taking half the stack & going to the front door, "Was there anything else there?" "Iím not sure." I throw the stuff in through the open door (not stepping inside) & say, "Letís see if there is." We walk down the street & itís the house this girl I liked (if "liked" is the right word) when I was four lived in, but there arenít any more clothes around.
 
 

heart star

    I can't believe I'm subjecting myself to this. She's real & I'm letting her see the real me underneath my masks. I'm scared for a moment & I start to run; but I don't have any place I can go, so I make it look like I always planned to run in a circle. There's a picnic table in front of me & I guess the drug is impairing my judgment because I try to jump over it & somehow do. Suddenly I'm not far from her & she's standing with her feet far apart & her arms outstretched (like one of those little yellow "under construction" men), an end of her scarf in each hand. I begin to slow for the matador trick, because I'm afraid I might knock her down & damage her beautiful skin on the asphalt, but she suddenly out maneuvers me & wraps & binds me with the scarf. She says, "Look, ma, I caught me one," in a mock southern accent & begins laughing as she wraps her arms around me so tight we begin to wobble & fall slightly controlling ourselves. Her body feels good against mine, because it's cold & I'm not really properly dressed for the weather; but it's also scaring me, because I think she might hurt me both emotionally & physically. I think I'm falling in love. It's very unusual & scary for me to hand power over & I'm not talented at it, so I smuggle it symbolically through some toy I have in my pocket.
    It makes her all giddy & smiley. "Wow! This is really neat." She's squishing the little yellow ball of stars & it keeps reforming into a ball. She's smearing it all over our bodies & it's leaving this residue that I think feels like snot, but she thinks feels like come.
    We're lying in the parking lot staring in each other's eyes when I notice these little red mites on the asphalt. Suddenly I'm on my elbows staring & concentrating so much my eyes hurt. She's about to ask what it is, but sees them before it comes out. "What are they doing here? They're real, aren't they?"
    I'm not paying attention to her. I'm fascinated. They're small & simple & alive. "Why can't I draw things like that?"
    "You can, just draw a little circle with legs."
    "Yeah, but that wouldn't be alive & stuff. I don't understand what makes them alive & moving & stuff, but my drawings not."
    "I bet every morning they go on a quest to get all the way across the parking lot."
    "Why? There's nothing there when they get there. What would be the point in that?" (Why am I suddenly hostile?)
    "I don't know... it's just what they do is all," she shrugs. I give up the argument or conversation or whatever it is.
    "I wonder if I can drive?" She says & suddenly we're in her car as if by magic.
    I'm in the passenger seat & the car seems really messy & I'm trying to help her navigate. She's never really been to the park before & I used to come here every day so I could call someplace my own where I didn't have to worry about keeping the image of my parents' son & could be myself. The car feels as if it's moving fast while it's probably not going over fifteen miles per hour. Her ability to drive like this impresses me & makes me see her as experienced & worldly, like I need her to be.
    Every time she gains a piece of knowledge, she either says it out loud or thinks it loud enough for me to hear. "Graveyard." "Weird little building." "Hit speed bump too fast." "People playing tennis." "End of the road." She turns the car around & we park in a different place, where for no apparent reason someone put one parking spot going into woods completely surrounded by trees.
    She takes out the yellow ball I gave her earlier & is smearing it on her steering wheel & the windshield which holds on to its sticky residue. "This little ball of happiness is so great." She's almost giggly & perky.
    "But what happens if it runs out of all the stuff it puts out that makes it happy?"
    "Well, then it'll be just a neat little ball & besides, that might never happen."
    She just foiled (first outer inner last?) me, as if she totally knew what I was thinking & what the ball represented to me. I'm not sure exactly what's going on now, but for some reason I'm talking about an album cover when I become aware of myself again. "It's a picture of a wolf & a face, but they're both there at once. Superimposed. It's like you take two pictures...."
    "I know what superimposed means." She almost sounds militant.
    "Oh, I'm sorry. I just thought...."
    "That I wasn't as 'bright' as you. I use to be in all those college track geek courses like you & then this year I got a lot of flak when I dropped down to easier classes with cooler people who aren't as intent on being a little factory box."
    She's smart. It never really occurred to me that she isn't dumb; after all, pot is her drug of choice & she's a year older than me & consequently she should be more mature than me, but opts to spend time with me. There's a silence spreading through the car & I feel like it's emanating from my chest. I think she is as smart as me & a year more mature.
    She's holding up the soda bottle we bought earlier at Seven Eleven before the drugs kicked in. "This stuff is called 'Sparkle' & I'm going to feel ripped off if it doesn't." I start laughing much too hard at her joke & when I'm bent over laughing I decide for some reason to drink from the Taco Bell cup jammed between the parking break & my seat. I feel like I might get sick & open my door suddenly to spit the liquid out of my mouth & try to cough the flavor out.
    "What did you do that for?"
    I get out & I'm coughing smoke because it's so cold. Suddenly she's with me, draping over me like a vampire in a low-budget movie. "Are you alright? What happened?"
    "I drank from the cup."
    "Oh my god... do you know how long that's been there? I haven't eaten at Taco Bell in over a week."
    Suddenly I straighten myself up & I'm healed completely & feel taller than I've ever been before. When I look at her I can't make out any of her features & can't even tell if she really exists, so I grab her hand. I'm not sure why, but we're walking forward out of the little woodsy area toward the picket fence that surrounds a small graveyard.
    There's a woman walking by in front of us & I can hear her thoughts, like four people muttering, cast off from her like a scent. It's all jibberish to me. "Can you hear that?" I whisper.
    "What?"
    "What she was just thinking. That mumbly-jumbly racket as she walked by." She's looking at me like she isn't sure if she can trust me not to kill her anymore. We're in the graveyard. All the graves are sunken in about six inches as if the caskets recently gave way to let the dirt lower. All the headstones have the last name Buffaloe, most of them are small like plaques & only one of them is visible outside of the fence.
    "What kind of order do you think they're in?"
    "I don't know. They've just always been a back ground to me."
    "Wow, look at this one, born 1892 died 1906. That's just fourteen. I never could've gotten everything done by then."
    "Or undone," I'm not sure if I'm speaking or just thinking really really loud.
    "Oh man. Look at this, born 1896 died 1896. That really messes with me. I bet it would even if I was sober. That's really freaky."
    "Maybe he was stillborn. My brother was." There's a tree branch hanging over me & I reach up & pull it lower, almost hurting myself because I twist my arm the wrong way. I don't know what kind of tree it is, but I'm chewing on the end of one of its fingerish branches & she's pacing, mumbling years, & doing math.
    "Twenty-six, that could be me. What are you doing? Don't you dare hurt that tree; it's alive."
    "It doesn't have any leaves. Maybe it's dead."
    "No, look." She pulls it away from me. "It has buds. It's going to be fine next year." She lets it go & it snaps back a few inches over our heads.
    For some reason her saying all this brings forth an image of me having children with her, but in my vision the children are sexless clones & half our height instead of being like normal people's children. We still love them. Some of my clones are blind with patches of skin going across where their eyes should be & I'm afraid one day I'll have to confront them about how god didn't make them blind ? I did, because in high school I ate a lot of LSD.
    She grabs my hand & my vision quivers away. We're walking out of the cemetery towards the building that used to scare me when I was young. It's cinderblock & looks like it used to be blue a long time ago, but now the sun has bleached it almost white. I know it's bathrooms for when they have baseball games (they keep it locked the rest of the time), but I still have this idea that one door leads to piles of dead things & the other to the home of their killer. She's sitting down leaning against the wall & I have to do the same thing to keep from looking dumb. I'm staring straight ahead of me; they're just woods, nothing peculiar waiting or starving inside.
    We're speaking to each other, but neither what she's saying nor what I'm saying are really making sense to me. I'm nodding my head to the rhythm of the words & keep smacking it against the wall. "Wow, I just realized what that sensation was."
    "What?"
    "Well, see, I'm smacking my head against the wall & I'm getting sent messages that it hurts, but I forgot what pain felt like."
    "That might be a really good sign, being able to forget what pain is." She's smiling & showing her teeth like she might start eating me alive.
    "Yeah, but I think it's a bad one. It means I'm probably not able to take care of myself well enough to be left alone anymore." I'm blinking, but my eyes get caught shut. There's someone I see in front of me; it's a girl with black hair that's impossibly angly & stiff like plastic. When I force my eyes open I can still see her. "Wow, you can't see that, huh?"
    "See what?"
    "That stuff behind my right eye a little to the side. That strange hair... never mind, it's mine." My hairs' ends are splitting & it looks grey & frazzled & bendy & interesting. "I don't think my clothes function properly."
    "Why? They cover your skin so you don't have to share it."
    "Yeah, I guess, but it's cold & my pants aren't long enough & they don't look nice or interesting. I don't think I really like jeans. My shirt's okay though. And my boots are pretty warm & comfy. They're black & they go with everything."
    "Are you alright, you trailed off?" I must've stopped talking & kept thinking somewhere.
    "It feels like somebody's shoving their soul's finger through the base of my skull & wiggling it around in my brain. I really like it a lot."
    "You're keen." She's hugging me & mashing her head against mine as if it'll melt our minds together & we'll only be one entity after this. I don't think it's going to work, but it's warm & I want to put my arms around her to steal more of her warmth, but I don't want to be selfish.
    A car goes by & we realize it's almost dark & I'm remembering the park closes at dusk. "The park's about to...."
    "Close. I know. I was trying to figure out who was in that car. We better go." We're springing up to our feet & walking to the car. My legs are numb because of the cold & I wonder if she's as cold as I am.
    When we get in the car I reach over & touch her nose & it's cold, so I leave my hand there to help warm it. She's looking at me strangely as if I'm doing something peculiar. "I'm just warming it. It's cold."
    She pushes my hand away giggling & shaking her head & puts the key in the ignition. "Are you sure you should be driving? We could leave the car."
    "No, we'll be okay together." She's starting the car & it's scaring me. A) The grinding noise sounds like my bones would if they were grinding together because I had no fat in my body & B) it reminds me she's in control, not me. The car's moving & it seems like we're moving really fast, but the speedometer reads fifteen. My eyes feel dry, so I close them. The car's stopped at the park entrance when I open my eyes & she's talking.
    "Where do you want to go now?"
    "I don't know. I'm not good with decisions."
    "Do you want to go to the mall?"
    "Sure."
    "How do you get there from here?"
    "Just turn right." The car starts its creeping again, but then stops for the stop sign at the first intersection. Look right, look left, go. We really are going kind of fast now. We're going twenty-five, which is the speed limit, & "There's a hill & a sharp turn ahead."
    "Okay." The car slows to twenty & when we go under the streetlight I can see the bare skin of her face & she looks like an angel with the light shining off so bright. I lean my head against her shoulder; I'd kiss her if I didn't think it would kill us. I have that feeling all over like I'm dreaming or all my hair's going to fall out & it's impossible to keep my eyes open. "Oh, wow. Now I know where we are. This isn't even where I thought we were going." The light changes & when she shifts this time her shoulder moves & my head isn't comfortable anymore, so I pull myself back to my seat. She parks on the bottom level of the parking deck about sixty feet from an entrance in a slot that ends with a pillar. She lights a cigarette & pulls me against her. I would love to be her mannequin. To be soul-less & thought-less & just exist to be molded & posed & to be pleasing to her. I'm scared though that won't be enough since she isn't an idiot. She puts her cigarette out in the ashtray & pushes me upright. "Okay, let's go," & her door's open & she's already out of the car walking towards the doors of the mall.
    "Do I need to lock the door?"
    "Yeah, why wouldn't you?"
    "I don't know... do you have your keys?"
    "Yes."
    I'm following her as if I'm a dog & I keep feeling waves of anger because either she has so much power over me or I have so much strychnine in my system. Inside of the mall everything seems surreal & fake. The floor is gray & black & looks like polished granite, but is probably just some sort of tile. I'm trying to find a pattern in it so I can be sure it's fake & she's pulling me by the right hand with her left. I'm glad for the hand she chose because it means my psychic energy is flowing into her & she's absorbing it. I'll infect her like a plague & part of me will be in her forever. After I kill myself & have been dead for fifty years she'll be able to pass me on to her grandchildren, maybe our grandchildren. She's pulling me up the stairs as if we actually have a destination. We're walking together holding hands, but I'm hardly even noticing that she exists & I bet she doesn't even notice me either over the weird lights & store fronts. Suddenly there aren't any store fronts anymore, but wooden office doors. I never knew this part of the mall existed & it's kind of scary. We reach the end of the wall & there's an elevator on the left & she lets me go so she can push the button. She's playing with her scarf & I'm staring & I wish I was talented with words.
    The doors open & we go inside. "Love in an elevator," she says barely loud enough for me to hear & I'm not sure if I was supposed to.
    "What?"
    "'Love in an Elevator,' it's a song by Aerosmith. Haven't you heard it before?"
    "No, I don't really know their stuff, just the big hits." I'm relieved she doesn't want to have sex right here right now; I don't think I could handle it in the state I'm in & would vomit from motion sickness. I close my eyes & touch them with my left thumb & index finger & my eyes are moving so fast inside that it scares me not to mention the visuals I'm seeing of what some people might call monsters. When I open them everything is moving in stutters like there are strobelights & she has an aura, purple & pinkish, extending less than an inch from her skin.
    The doors open & we walk out & there's a giant orange & blue arrow pointing to the left that a lot of people have written on with ball-point pens. We follow the arrow & go to sit in the safety of a five foot wide stairwell. I'm sitting where the stairs bend staring straight ahead at the occassional people who walk by & she's in a sitting position, but lying on her side with her head on my lap. The grown-ups who walk by don't really look at us, but I can hear them either thinking or muttering, "Fucking hippies" & "Damn no account kids." Some of the women pull their purses closer as they walk by. Some children walk by & stare at us as their mothers drag them behind them. I say, "It's like we're ghosts or something & most people can't see us, but kids can because they haven't been corrupted yet."
    "Maybe we are invisible, that wouldn't be so bad."
    "Maybe it's just we aren't part of their world & kids don't have their own yet so they have to share everybody's." I'm leaning forward so I can slip off my trench coat. I guess my motion makes my lap less comfortable because she sits up & takes off her jacket & sweater to reveal a long sleeve purple & white tie dye shirt with stars on it.
    "Yeah." She sits up with her entire right side leaning against my left. "& maybe in ten years we'll be an important part of who one of those kids wants to be."
    "I don't think I like clothes. It's like you're trying to trick people into thinking you have really cool skin." My eyes are throbbing so I close them.
    "No it's not. It's just that you want to keep warm & you want to keep some people from hurting you."
    "I'm having this vision where my skin falls off so I put it back on. But I put it on inside out & it's black with pure white stars & pinstripes. Then I point at my one hand & go, 'Look, man, I'm fucked up.'"
    "I guess that would be kind of weird & you'd have a right to say that," she keeps talking & I can tell she's smiling by how her voice is distorted. "Would it be okay if I chewed on your neck?"
    "Huh?"
    "It's just chewing, a gentle tugging on the flesh. Not to kill you, just you know.... Some people don't like it, like they think I'm going to kill them or something. So would it be okay?"
    "Yeah, sure, whatever you'd like to do." She's in this weird posture as if she's worshipping me, her mouth barely able to reach my neck. My head drifts toward the right to help accommodate her & she brushes my hair behind my ear so it won't get in her mouth. She leans in & bites me & I can feel the warmth of her mouth more than her teeth or lips. Suddenly I'm looking down on the scene from ten feet above my body. Her whole body is moving rhythmically, her head moving the most. Pulling back & forth never quite letting go of the skin in her mouth. Her eyes are closed & she looks like she's wearing purple eye shadow. I hate make-up. It makes people look like they're obsessed with sex & physical beauty & it tastes funny. I hate beautiful people, probably just because of jealousy. I have the facial features of a neanderthal, so I have to depend on people who don't care about aesthetics to spend time with me. Unfortunately, I also seem to find these people dull, unintelligent, & hard to look at.
    She pulls off of my neck & I'm sucked back into my body through the wet cooling spot where she was. I'm scowling down towards her because I didn't get a chance to explore when I was out of my body. Her head's turned down as if she's exhausted herself. When she turns up to my glare it makes me feel like a giant, like a big stupid M-A-N.
    "Didn't you like it?"
    "Yeah, sure, why wouldn't I?" My tone seems caustic. I'm trying to become my normal gentle self again; my face goes completely expressionless.
    "You just looked really mad when I looked up."
    "Maybe I'm upset you didn't take my life or soul away." I'm not good with words & I offer them too quickly. She stares back blankly & I don't think either of us knows for sure if I really said it. Her face is pale & its motions seem clicky because of my influences for a moment.
    "So what do you think about sex?"
    "It's really important to me.... I don't think it should be as common or as casual as it is. If you're not willing to pay for all the possible risks alongside the person, you probably shouldn't do it. I'm really against abortion, at least of my children. I don't think it's fair somebody else can decide if my child will get to be born."
    "I'm pro-choice, but I think if it was me I'd pretty definitely have it. But some people, I guess having a baby would destroy their life."
    "Then they shouldn't have sex. That's karma."
    "Yeah, but sometimes things change from when you have sex to when you find out you're pregnant. & it is part of the woman's body for nine months."
    "I read this story called 'R.A.B.' where doctors decided that children didn't become individual entities until they were nine years old, so up to that the parents could have a retro-active-abortion. It kind of casts a light on deciding where life begins & puts it at the very beginning. I don't know. I just think sex is way too casual." I just realized she probably wanted to have sex with me & didn't want some big long philosophical answer & I do want to have sex with her just to further infect her with my plague so she'll be more attached to me. "Wow, there's something I wanna try, can you turn around?"
    "Sure." She turns her back to me & is sitting indian style, her head hanging forward. I take my right hand & run it slowly down her back a half inch away from it.
    "Can you feel that?"
    "Yeah, what are you doing?"
    "Really?"
    "Uh-huh."
    "I'm not even touching you. Wow, I didn't think that would work."
   "Let me try." We both turn around. As hard as I try I can't feel anything. I get the chills & shiver. "Wow."
    "That was cool," I don't have the heart to tell her it was more likely the acid than her. I turn & lean back against the wall & bang my head against it & close my eyes. I'm seeing myself with black starry skin again.  I'm lost in it. I'm swirling somewhere inside myself & I feel like I'm becoming two dimensional or maybe one dimensional & my hair is filling with blood & all the crushed bits of the rest of my body as I turn into a line.
    She touches me on the back of the neck & it feels like she's magically parting my skin & shoving her fingers inside me. I'd really like to kiss her right now, or tell her that I'd like to kiss her, but I still hurt from the last time I kissed a girl. I must be coming off to her like I'm a real jerk or immature or prude or something else. I'm staring in her eyes & she's staring in mine, but I can't even see her anymore. All I see is the blackness in her huge pupils & I want to know how dark her soul is. I want to know how similar she really is to me.
    "Have you ever left your body?"
    "Huh?" She's confused.
    "Left your body. You know, that astral travel crap. Not just like you're stuck a few inches out of phase with your body, everybody gets that; but like you're really out of it & then do stuff."
    "No, not that I know of. Maybe when I'm asleep...."
    "One time I was stuck out & I was busy trying to get back in my body instead of goofing off."
    I'm not facing her & when I look over she's staring at me with her mouth open a little with this look as if I just told her I got out of an institution recently after being put there for biting my last girlfriend's finger off. Her mouth closes & she gives a little smile & says "Let's go see if there's anything to see." She stands up & pulls her gear back on & helps me up.
    "I'm not sure if I can walk."
    "Why not?"
    "My legs are asleep." I'm not even sure if they really are, I just don't want to get myself in trouble because I'm messed up & I might do something dumb like put something in my pocket that isn't mine. My feet are kind of tingly & numb & I need her help to get down the stairs, which hurts & makes me clench my teeth together which feels really intriguing. We gather up our crap & put it back on.
    We're walking down the hallway holding hands & she's swinging my arm a little too much & it kind of hurts, but it keeps me from fading out of the material world. All the shops seem totally disinteresting. Typical clothing & jewelry & knick knacks now available for people in their thirties with too much money that they should just give to somebody who needs it, somebody like me.
    We go into this one store, I'm not sure what you'd call it. They have paper products & some art supplies & books & cards & ceramic things like people's mothers & grandmothers collect. The store is losing my interest much faster than it gained it when I see this book. The cover has this weird hand image with a hole cut in the palm so you can see another picture underneath. It's The Cipher by Kathe Koja. I try to read some of it somewhere in the middle & it doesn't make any sense to me really, but it's definitely of interest to me & I'm afraid I might steal it, so I put it back.
    "Did you ever read these?" She's looking at some V.C. Andrews books with her left hand to her mouth chewing on her sweater sleeve. I step over & bump my right shoulder into her left.
    "No, not really." I want to tell her that I'm not exactly what she thinks. I haven't grown up always being me. I metamorphosized away from being a completely mainstream college track suburban kid three years ago & have only been the distorted person she thinks she knows for about six months. It's just too much trouble & too embarrassing to say.
    "Oh wow, this is a new one." She picks one up & starts reading the back.
    "You know she's dead & she really only wrote like four of those books? The rest are just based on plot ideas & unfinished stuff & stuff."
    "Really? That's weird... I dunno...." She sets the book down & grabs my left hand & we leave the store.
    The tile is really fascinating me again. I wish I was in it. It seems so much prettier than here. No neon orange & blue ugly colors, just pretty shiny black & gray. We walk down the handicap ramp instead of the stairs & I'm really glad because I have this tendency to kind of fall down stairs instead of walking down them when I'm on acid. I turn to her & she looks really pretty, like an angel sent to kidnap me for god.
    "What's it like to need glasses?" She's not wearing them now, but I've seen her with them before.
    "I don't know... I guess it's kind of like the way you see things when you're dosed."
    "Wow, really? That must be great."
    "No. No, it's like things are just kinda fuzzy &...." I stop paying attention to what she's saying because I'm enamored by how shiny the fingernails on my right hand are & I'm trying to angle them to see my own reflection. "....it's not that all great."
    "Oh." She pulls me to the left into a hallway of shops & leads me into this trendy store called "Rock Art" that I've heard people talk about at school, but never been in before.
    "Hi, how's it going tonight?" The clerk looks about 22 & has black hair & one of those bad skater bowl haircuts. He's wearing this red shirt that looks like it came from Pizza Hut & a black nylon cord necklace with three cylinder fimo beads on it.
    "Okay," Stephanie says quietly & I'm not sure if she's talking to me or him or herself. I feel like I'm a macho man for a second because I'm with a girl right now & the guy behind the counter probably wants to be, but he's not & I'm not letting go of her. I look around the store & they have t-shirts & sunglasses & beads & posters. I'm not sure what I'm looking at when I feel this shock/quake/quiver that starts in my eyes & spreads through my head & then through the rest of me & I close my eyes & enjoy it, even though it's hard to stand.
    "Look at this," she says pulling at the elbow of my coat sleeve, shaking it, making me feel like jelly & I open my eyes.
    The poster display is turned to this image of skeletons on a black background. There's a pile of skeletons with the grim reaper standing on top of them holding his scythe over his head with one hand in triumph. The reaper is glowing like he's holy. "Wow," it's a whisper or maybe not even out loud.
    "See, this is what death is supposed to be like, glorious & happy & proud & beautiful. It doesn't have to be all blood & hate & violence." Her voice sounds like she's trying to seduce me & she comes closer to me & brushes my hair away so she can whisper in my ear. "Death can be great. Death can be beautiful."
    "I'm staring at our reflection in the plexi-glass & I want to believe what she's saying; I want to believe everything she ever says to me. She's still whispering, but I can't hear her. I'm staring at the grim reaper's skull (he has his hood off) & at my right eye in the same place in the reflection. I don't want death to be pretty. If I still exist, I'm afraid of what will happen to me. I'm not ready to die. I can't really see anymore, but I can tell I'm crying.
    She dries my left eye with her scarf. "We better go." She takes my right hand & we leave the store. I can't even remember why I was crying, but I'm rubbing the tears into my rubbery skin. My jaw's spasming & my fingers are trembling & my mind's all fidgety.
    "Are you okay?"
    "Um... yeah, I'm fine." She starts swinging our arms a lot as we walk, almost to shoulder level with each step. I start smiling & she starts smiling back & I notice we're in the main part of the mall again. She looks beautiful like a doll from a stop-motion world. I want to give her my heart & soul & mind & body to take care of. I think she loves me more than I love myself. I don't love myself. I am nothing I want to be. I am ashamed of my mind & body & soul. Maybe my heart's okay; I don't know, I don't use it much. I'm afraid of it. I think it could destroy me completely, just like my mind hurt my soul.
    We're in Waldenbooks now. The carpet is this gray color with black flecks. We're in the occult/new age section; it's where we belong. The clerks ignore us. She's looking through an astrology book sitting indian style on the floor & I'm staring at her knees. I sit down next to her & I stare at the wall pretending I'm reading the books' titles; but I can't read, the words are too watery.
    "When's your birthday?"
    "April thirtieth."
    She flips through the book a second. "Taurus, a Taurus cat." I'm not sure if "cat" is lingo or chinese astrology or something I just don't know about. She's reading out loud, but I can't hear her because I'm busy playing with something in my pocket.
    She's standing & pulling me up & I'm not sure how much time has passed. We're leaving the store back to our stairway home & I'm not even sure if I've walked the whole way & I'm leaning on the wall with the arrow on it & realize I'm holding her right hand with my left. I let her hand go & go off spinning against the wall as it turns & then I'm sitting in our spot on the stairs. She's infected me now & it's as if I can't function anymore. My eyes are closed & I'm dead, waiting for her to bring me back to life.
    I feel her drape her right arm across me & she shakes me slightly. I turn to her & open my eyes smiling & then close my eyes again. She's taken off her gear & is wearing her spacey tie-dye shirt & I want to dive inside it or maybe into the flesh on the other side, they're inseparable to me right now. She's so scrawny & beautiful & I want to tell her, but for some reason I'm overwhelmed by the idea that maybe we're just friends to her. After all, even though I'm thin (thinner than her in fact, I'm five foot four inches & eighty-five pounds), I have a face that has open sores on it from where I pinch off all small pieces of skin when I'm intoxicated. I look like a zombie, or someone who will be a zombie, & maybe having sex with someone on the verge of death & bringing them back to life isn't as big of a turn on to her as it is to me. She's talking & I'm too busy trying to think straight to make out anything besides tone & rhythm. "I'm going to go outside for a minute." She gets up & walks down the hall to the secret exit it leads to & I'm scared that she's left me & trying to figure out if I should walk home or call home or just go outside & wait through the night & hopefully freeze to death through the night instead of having to survive the humiliation of her telling all her friends how hysterical it was that I was falling in love with her. She comes back & she's carrying this rock the size of a football or a baby. She sets it down & sits next to me again & the rock is purple & shiny. It looks like it's covered with white shimmery spider webs & the pattern seems full of these flirting images that are never quite right or real & disappear before I can make them out.
    "Why's it like that?"
    "I don't know. I just went out there & there it was staring up at me."
    I'm taking my coat off again & I find our pack of Juicy Fruit in the pocket & I pull it out & take my jacket off. I pull one stick out & hand her the pack which only has one stick left.
    "Thanks."
    "You're welcome." I wonder what's going on with her. "Look," I say pointing at the paper wrapper, "'save foil to put gum in after use.' You know, why else would you save it? If you were on a boat & it sank you could use the foil & the reflection of the sun to get rescued?" That was from some sitcom from when I was eight & it struck me as really cool then, but now I wish I'd forgotten it so I couldn't have said it just now. In a flash I'm remembering an episode of Night Court where Dan was a male escort or something & the woman who hired him had had a really wealthy husband & was showing him her engagement ring, which was made from aluminum foil. Her husband could have bought her any ring with any diamond, but he thought it would be more interesting & valuable to invest his time & ingenuity into making a ring. So I start making a ring for Stephanie & I can't figure out how to make it so it will stay together, but I give it to her anyway.
    "Do you know what a ring means?"
    She's staring straight in my eyes & I shake my head no & it feels kind of cool, but I remember this might be kind of serious, so I stop doing it shortly after when I should've.
    She made me a ring too (I guess when I was enthralled making hers, so I didn't notice it) & she slips it on my finger. "It doesn't end, it's a symbol of forever. Of things going on & on through death & rebirth."
    I think I'm too fucked up for her to be telling me this right now. It all seems too profound & true, like everything in the world is unavoidable & I'm thinking about how maybe if I had a child I'd be immortal. I really want to have two kids & I don't want them to be blind. She's lying down on my lap & she says, "There's something uncomfortable in your pocket."
    I stand up & throw my wallet out to her.
    "What's this supposed to mean? Throwing money at me?"
    "I don't know," but I do. I don't feel like I have much to offer her & maybe I can bribe her by giving her anything & everything valuable that I have. Me & everything associated with me is valueless compared to her.
    I'm sitting down again & she's lying on my lap looking up at me & I'm trying to stare straight ahead with my eyes closed, but images from the periphery keep distracting me.
    "I didn't know you had your ear pierced."
    "Oh... yeah... I did it about two years ago." I'm fiddling with the hook through my ear.
    "You did it? You didn't have it done?"
    "No, why would I? If it's supposed to be symbolic of something & not just fashion, it's pretty valueless if you don't do it yourself."
    I think she's talking, but my eyes are closed & I'm getting lost in myself again. I'm seeing this image that's shaped like a heart & the perimeter of it is framed with pink & white bleeding hearts. Inside there's a close up image of Stephanie & I kissing slowly & somewhat lazily so it almost looks like there's no motion at all. I think it's our wedding because I'm wearing a black suit & on the one of her shoulders you can see she has white lace, but she definitely does not have a veil, so that throws me off a little. Behind the image of us kissing there's fast paced live action of us killing people in pews & getting coated with blood (she's killing to the left behind my head & i'm killing to the right behind her). I'm wearing thumb razor rings & keep accidentally cutting the edges of my face when I try to wipe my hair out of it. She seems more violent & vicious than me because she's killing people with brute force (finger through eye to brain & shattering skulls on wooden pews) instead of being civilized & using some type of metal. It simultaneously repulses & attracts me that she's more angry & therefore probably more honest than I am. Blood starts to run down from the top arcs of the hearts & taints everything inside.
    I open my eyes & her face is about four inches in front of mine & I bang my head on the wall behind me.
    She puts her right hand between my head & the wall (I think for a second her body is part of some elaborate cage) & says, "Are you okay?"
    I have to stick my tongue out a little to force my lips open & they taste like blood. "Yeah." I close my eyes again. "I just saw this image of you & me on our wedding day & there was all this blood & I had those razor thumb things like the guy in Nightbreed. It was really beautiful."
    "Wow." She's staring up from my lap & she closes her eyes & leaves them that way. I want to bend down & bite at her neck because it's slightly arched & I'm hearing these screechy voices that sound like worn out brakes going "Kill" & "Believe in the hopelessness." I never feel sure if these voices are real or hallucinated. I can't tell if they come from the inside or are proof of some kind of angel or demon. There's this character called Scarecrow from The Galaxy Rangers that absorbed life force & turned people into zombies & destroyed worlds & I'm convinced that he might be real & might really be me. He's the ravager of worlds & I'm his latest incarnation. Sometimes when I listen to the voices closely I hear his inside of the others & it's indistinguishable from my own. I'd kind of like to dress like him (some sort of cowboy outlaw dressed in black), but people would make fun of me (like they don't already? (too many voices)) & that might force me to lose myself to what I am before I can find a way to....
    "What exams do you have tomorrow?"
    "Math & chemistry. What do you have?"
    "Just english, it should be pretty easy though. I don't know how to study anyway."
    "I don't know how to study either. I just look over things. Review. All I know, I know, & I look that over & that's good enough for me. I'm not particularly concerned with it anyway. I mean, even if I do bad, so what?"
    "Yeah, all I have to do is pass & then this June I graduate & I'm done forever."
    "You're not going to college?"
    "No, I'm not applying to college. I didn't even take the SAT."
    "Wow...."
    "I know. My mom gave me so much flak about it. But it's my life & I'll do what I want & that's not it."
    "I don't have any idea what I want."
    "You don't know what you want? That's okay. What do you like?"
    "I don't know that either."
    "You don't know what you like? Huh. I know lots of people who don't know what they want, but they know what they like."
    "Maybe that's what my problem is. I don't know anything. I like LSD. Sometimes she's my best friend, even though she's kind of scary & creepy sometimes. I think I kinda like being scared. You know, sometimes just a little or even a lot. It's fun. & I like my cat a lot."
    She's not paying attention anymore. She's lying with her head on my stomach (I'm not sitting too straight) with her eyes closed. I close my eyes & stay as still as I can, but I can feel my right hand twitching.
    I'm hearing this ringing & I'm not sure, but I think it's in my head. "Should I call you tomorrow, or could you call me? I hate telephones."
    "Why do you hate telephones?"
    "They're annoying. It's like you're doing something & then they come screaming all loud demanding your attention."
    "No.... They're just like, 'Let me sing you a little song & if you want to talk to one of your friends just pick me up or I'll just keep singing my little song. La dee da dee da.' You're right; they are kind of annoying." She flips over & pus her right hand on my chest & pushes herself to sit up. "What time does the mall close?"
    "I don't know."
    "Maybe we should go find out how long it is till then."
    I'm suddenly kind of scared we've been locked in the mall. She takes my left hand & we walk to the main entrance & the door says "10am - 9pm" & it's 8:45. We sit on a bench against this little islandy thing filled with bark & flowers. I say to her, "Are we going out?"
    "No, it's cold outside."
    "No.... I mean in the yuppie, preppie, english class boxes sense of the word."
    "Oh.... I don't know. I guess so."
    "Oh, okay." The clerk in the nearest store is starting to vacuum & I'm kind of fascinated by the sound. "What happened to that stone ring I gave you?"
    "Oh, I can't wear it much because it just feels kind of awkward & stuff." I stop paying attention to her & start concentrating on the vacuuming noise & the weird rhythm of motion the girl vacuuming has & she keeps talking & her voice is kind of becoming a background distraction. "It's in a box where I keep important stuff & it's made out of wood & has a little lock on it & I have it sitting on this little mantle thing in my room &...."
    "I already have adequately more information on the subject than I ever wanted." Her mouth just hangs open a second & I immediately know that I shouldn't have said it. It would have been so much less insulting to just say, "Shut up," (which I was trying to avoid saying, a bad attempt at tact I suppose) because this insulted her intelligence as well as telling her to shut up. The most appropriate thing to do would've been to kiss her on the eye. I can't even enjoy the vacuuming anymore because my mind's racing too fast trying to get into the past & prevent me from saying it, because I don't know how to rectify the situation. I just take her right hand in my left & try to absorb back some of the viciousness I just gave her.
    "Do you want to go to the car? I need a cigarette."
    "Sure." We get up & go outside to the car. All the cars in the parking lot look like they're smiling at us & I say, "Look, they're smiling."
    She says, "I know, cars have a lot of personality & most of them are happy."
    We get to her car & she goes to her side & unlocks her door & for a second I think she's going to leave without me & I'm trying to figure out if I could make it through the walk home in the state I'm in. She gets in the car & unlocks my door & I open it & suddenly we're inside a private space alone together. I close my eyes & I'm seeing this meadow-ish place that I'm already kind of too old (or young?) to be able to appreciate. The grass is almost knee high & not much taller than it & running through it are a boy & a girl with patches of skin over where their eyes should be. They're running & eventually they run to Stephanie & she's so beautiful, so much more beautiful than any other girl I've ever seen. I think I'm about to cry when I open my eyes & see the real Stephanie smoking a cigarette. It just makes me more fascinated by her because she simultaneously is beautiful & holy & a little earthy & dirty. I'm just staring at her being herself.
    "So what do you want to do?" She asks as she puts her cigarette out in her overflowing ashtray.
    "I don't know." I have this feeling where I just want to pass out into a baby coma like I do every so often when I run my body ragged enough. She puts the key in the ignition & turns it & the radio comes on. "Can I put a tape in?" I ask, already digging into my coat pocket.
    "Sure. What is it?"
    "It's the new Slayer record, Seasons in the Abyss. I really like it a lot & I just want you to listen to it." I pull my walkman out of my pocket & take the tape & feed it into the car's tape mouth. "Dead Skin Mask" comes on & it feels slower & creepier & spookier than usual & I'm falling in love with it. "Have you ever listened to them before?"
    "I've heard them before, but I've never really listened to them before. You know, like pay attention & stuff."
    The child talking to Ed Gein part of the song comes on & my body quivers a little bit & I reach to her & trace the left side of her face with my right index finger. The space between songs comes up.
    She says, "It's nice & interesting & all, but I don't listen to stuff that fast anymore."
    I push the fast forward button so it will go to "Seasons in the Abyss" & I say, "Yeah. It's like the goal of music is the search for this one note that makes you feel really good. & people can try & hit it often just randomly by going real fast or they can try to accidentally hit it & sustain it by going slow." It feels like someone's shoved their finger in the base of my skull & is flinging it around molesting & caressing me. "Seasons in the Abyss" starts & I don't feel like it's something I should take pride in liking anymore & there are all these things I don't really like about it, but it's the darkest creepiest aggressive stuff I know.
    "If I made you a Grateful Dead tape would you listen to it?"
    "Yeah."
    "Really? You would?"
    "Sure. I don't even really know what they sound like. I only know that one hit song."
    She grabs my head, a hand on each side, & brings it to her bowing it down & kisses the top of my head & then lets go & I go back to my seat. She's staring at the part of the windshield in front of me & I start staring at it too. It's these little scratches & in this state & this light they're casting these microscopic rainbows the same way gasoline does in water. She asks, "Where did those come from?"
    "I think those are what happen when you run your windshield wipers dry. You know, like when it's raining, but not raining much & it makes that noise."
    She turns her windshield wipers on & they streak across making that noise. "Like that?"
    "Don't do that. That'll make it worse."
    "Oh."
    I turn & look out my window & there's the girl who was vacuuming in the mall with keys in her hand. I say, "God, I'm so glad I don't have to work there. It'd be so mundane to need to do that every day for money. I'd run out screaming at the end of the night."
    "Maybe she does that every other night, but that got mundane, so she didn't go it tonight. Everything gets mundane."
    I turn away from the vacuum girl & close my eyes & put my right hand against my window. I'm feeling its cool & it seems like I'm swimming inside it. Like I don't want to exist except for my coldness. I'm cold & inanimate & perfectly content. I turn my head & open my eyes & outside beyond my hand & the window is a white truckish thing with lights on its roof going by "We need to go; I just saw cops."
    She doesn't hear anything more or see anything for herself. She starts the car & backs out of the space & we drive out of the parking deck to the mall exit We're waiting at a stoplight & she asks, "Are you sure it was cops, or was it just security?"
    "I don't know. Here's what I know, car with lights."
    "Were they flashing?"
    "No."
    "It was probably just security then. They can't do anything except tell you to move along anyway."
    The light changes & the car moves & we turn right & at the next stop light the car in front of us has a PIL sticker & "Rise" & "This Is Not a Love Song" both start playing in my head simultaneously for a moment.
    "So where do you want to go now?" she asks, turning to me & smiling.
    "I don't know, I don't know where there is to go."
    "Do you just want me to take you home?"
    "I don't know, I guess."
    The light changes & as she shifts the car out of neutral it sounds slightly angry. We turn left & she asks, "How do I get to your house from here?"
    "Oh, turn left at the second light." I'm mad because I don't want to not be with her & it seems like maybe she wants to be without me. I'm kind of hoping for an accident, not fatal, just so we'd be forced to spend a few more hours or days together. Maybe fatal wouldn't be that bad at least for me. I'd just exist with her for a while & then I wouldn't exist anymore. We make the left turn & my eyes glaze over a little & this noise is going through my head like doppler effected locusts. This is the sound I'm always looking for in music & hearing it so pure & perfect now makes me feel good to the point where I think I'll pass out & I can feel my eyes rolling back in my head.
    We get to another light & she says, "Do I go straight here?"
    & I say, "Yeah, you go straight here." I feel like I made some kind of joke or philosophical statement, but it's too meaningful for me to understand right now. "You turn left at the next light." The sound's starting again & I'm emulating it or maybe even creating it by blowing air out of my mouth & chattering my jaw.
    We get to the next light & it's red, so she stops & says, "Left at the light."
    She starts to go & I say, "What are you doing? The light's red!"
    "Oops! Oh, yeah" She starts laughing & the car's stopped a couple feet into the intersection when the light turns green & we go. "Where's your street?"
    "It's up here on the right, not the first one with the big wooden sign, but the second one with the little green sign." & we're there & she turns & we're driving down my street & I say, "This is my house coming up on the right." She parks her car on the street & I say, "Are you sure you can drive home?"
    "Yeah, I'm fine now."
    "Cause if you can't drive home you can stay here. I'll tell my parents that I'm a drug addict & me & my friend are intoxicated & she isn't up to driving herself home right now."
    "No, that's okay. I'm good for driving."
    "Do you know how to get home from here?"
    "Yeah."
    "Okay then, bye." I put my hand on the handle & start to open the door.
    "Don't I get a hug?"
    I let go of the door & it closes back a little & the dome light goes back off (which is so much more noticeable & significant than the fact it went on in the first place) & I lean over to her & we have our arms around each other for probably about twenty seconds, but it could be any given amount of time really; I'm not sure.
    She says, "I'll talk to you tomorrow then."
    "Okay, bye." I step out of the car & am looking in at her. She seems so cute & somehow disturbing, something reminiscent of being nine years old....
    She says, "Bye-bye," & gives this little finger crinching wave & then starts the car & I close the door smiling at her. She drives away & I walk up to my parents' house & I pull my key out of my pocket & unlock the door & open it & slip my key out of the keyhole & put it back in my pocket & lock the door & close it. There aren't any lights on in this part of the house & I don't want to draw any attention to myself so I leave them off. I climb the stairs like a dog (otherwise I'll lose my balance, I know that from experience, so I start on all fours instead of just ending up that way) & I go to my room at the top of the stairs. I walk into my door because usually I leave it open when I'm not in it (there's no need to use all the energy it would take to open & close my door nine or ten times a day) but evidently I closed it today. I open it, step in, & close it behind me & walk to my bed. I feel like I was supposed to yell out, "I'm home," when I got back; but that seems so cheezy, like something that would be done by some strange dinner guest who's come to fuck on the dining room table. I'm lying still trying to go to sleep for a while, but I can't. (I haven't actually fallen asleep for more than five minutes at a time in twenty-one days & I'm probably hallucinating as much from my sleep dep & lack of eating as from eating acid & speed every day. My serotonin levels must be really fucked up & I know I'll probably crash into a mini-coma soon, but it makes things more fun right now.) I sit up & I'm staring out the window beside my bed & everything outside looks like some kind of mosaic because of the screen. I'm listening to the sounds of distant traffic (there's a highway about half a mile away) & a buzzing noise that's coming from inside my head. I want to be with Stephanie. I wish I could implant myself somewhere in her skull, maybe the lower back left part, so I could always be with her & didn't have to know or absorb anything besides her. My back is starting to hurt really bad & I'm trying to contort myself into a comfortable position, but I can't. I just keep hurting & these voices in my head start talking & I'm trying to ignore them because they're being mean & saying stuff like, "He thinks he's so fucking cool & special. He thinks he's so great. He's just a little animal in a cage who even likes being caged as long as some visitor throws in a piece of candy every once in a while."
    There's a knock on the door & I say, "What?" in a way that makes me sound slightly agitated & newly awoken.
    "Oh... you are home." It's my mother. "We didn't hear you come in, we were kinda worried about you. When did you get back?"
    I turn & look at my clock & the red digital reads "2:37" & I say, "I don't know, around ten o'clock." That's enough to make her go away & it scared away the voices in my head for a while (why? the confrontation of some kind of absolute reality or just the sound of my own voice?), so maybe I finally will get to sleep for a few minutes.
 
 

Idol

Sheís famous, at least to me & the other thousand people who know her. I canít believe that sheís willing to be seen with me, much less as an inferior. I feel like in some way Iím insulting both of us when I introduce her. I donít even explain who she is. I just hope I donít embarrass her.
 
 

Immune

You canít hurt me anymore. I donít care about you anymore & it makes me immune to you. No matter how much hate you try to put in me, I wonít absorb it. Your filth wonít stay in me anymore. Iím pure & you canít take it away again.
 
 

in Europe

Weíre in Europe & weíre so shocked to see a Taco Bell we have to eat there. Their menu isnít quite right or at least doesnít seem quite right to us. For one thing everything is wrapped in a pita instead of a tortilla & for another thing their nachos are built around french fries instead of chips. We eat & go back to the club & play. Iím packing up our merchandise after the show & this tall skinny guy with a dyed black crewcut comes up in what looks like a US postal uniform. Heís bitching about wanting to buy the new cd & I say, "Iím sorry, weíre already done selling for the night." "Well, youíll lose a fan." "Look, I donít know who you think you are that youíre so important, but I really donít care who you are." I pick up the box & walk out of the club & put it in the van.
 
 

inside

Inside everything is going gray; the sunís going down. In the house Iíll be safe for the night, but Erinís still outside. Sheís looking for food or at least sheís supposed to be. At night itís more dangerous; everythingís more dangerous. You canít see the dead coming from as far away & you canít see the gaps when they try to encircle you. I want to try & save her, but Iím too scared to go outside. I leave the door unlocked so she can get in & lock myself in the bathroom sitting in the shower stall crying.
 
 

Just

She thinks that justifying her actions somehow makes her just. That everything is single sided & clean cut & that sheís never mean or unfair, but treats others exactly as they deserve to be. She thinks sheís a karma cop. Sheís just an arrogant self-righteous little girl.
 
 

karma

One of my best friends was in a car accident & is taking all of these painkillers. I really want some of his pills, but I feel it would be really rude to ask for them. Weíre sitting in the living room of his apartment trying to watch tv, but heís so zoned out that itís hard for anything to hold his attention or become coherent. His alleged-punk-rock girl roommate (Iím not particularly a fan of hers) comes in & picks up the prescription bottle from the coffee table & says, "Oh, wow. Can I have these if any are left over?" He says, "Yeah, sure." Iím mad because Iím the one trying to take care of him & Iím the one being a good person or whatever & Iím the one who deserves to get high. Fuck.
 
 

key

Iím in a field & my feet are bound. Iím searching the ground for the right iron key, but the ground is littered with them & theyíre all partially grown over by dying weeds. I feel like I need to free myself now or the world will end soon & Iíll die a slave.
 
 

Knees

My knees are sore. Iím not sure if itís from praying or oral sex. They feel like theyíll collapse when I straighten them, so Iím curled in a ball on my side. My eyes feel like the lashes are tying themselves together so Iíll never be able to open them again.
 
 

less

I saw my reflection & I donít think Iím as beautiful as I used to be anymore. I have this new hair cut that makes me look like a boy instead of vague & androgynous like I have for years. Itís not nearly as appealing to me. Itís not nearly as interesting to look in the mirror & know itís me & not be able to mistake myself for an ex-lover. I look working class instead of homeless.
 
 

lifestyle

    Iím semi-homeless. Iím homeless, but Iím traveling across the country staying in friendsí houses & living off other peopleís credit cards. Iím staying at my friend Davidís apartment right now & Iíve been here for a week & Iím getting to the point where heís beginning to see Iím leeching, so Iím going to leave tomorrow. Davidís at work & Iím just walking around in a park a couple blocks from his apartment zoning out. Thereís this girl about 200 feet away from me yelling & I donít see anyone else in the park, so I assume sheís yelling at me. I stop walking & just stand & stare at her. "Heh," she says, getting closer & coming closer to a regular speaking volume. "I was trying to get your attention at the club last night."
    I can hardly remember anything about last night because I was so drunk & high. I hardly know what to say thatís not obnoxious; I want to say, "Thatís flattering," but instead say, "Iím sorry, Iíd been drinking." Sheís wearing a black t-shirt & faded blue jeans. Iím wearing a full button black & gray striped shirt & black & gray seersucker pants.
    "My nameís Jessica."
    "Iím Brian." What the fuck is the matter with this girl that sheís actually talking to me.
    "So what are you doing here?"
    "I donít know."
    She takes my right hand in her left & we start walking. We end up stopping & sitting at the shore of some creek. Sheís talking to me & Iím staring into the water where someone has drawn a face in the mud that looks like Jabba the Hut. Iím just agreeing with what she says without paying attention. Iím saying, "Uh-huh," when this guy pulls her up to her feet by her hair from behind us & says, "I thought you might be here." He turns her to face him & slaps her across the face. I stand up & heís probably four inches taller than me & fifty pounds heavier & I push him in the chest with both hands & say, "Whatís your fucking problem?" Heís just looking at me like he thinks he can stare me down. I pick him up by the shirt & pin him against a tree like I think Iím Fonzie or something & say, "Leave her the fuck alone." Then he just straightens his shirt & stares at me like he thinks he won & walks away. I donít want to fucking deal with this. Iím glad Iím leaving town tomorrow, because it prevents me from getting very involved. I sit down next to where she is crying & she latches on to me like she thinks Iím her boyfriend or something. When she calms down a little, I ask her if she wants me to walk her home & she says she doesnít have a home & I know she must be a little leech like me except that she stays in the same city & uses her looks to stay with & steal from young urban professionals. "I donít have a home either, so maybe you should scamper off to somebody else." But she doesnít move, she just starts crying again. I get her purse & inside thereís a prescription bottle of hydrocodone (in a manís name) & I take two & then put one in her mouth & put the bottle back away. In a few minutes I certainly feel much better & weíre both going to Davidís apartment & Jessicaís planning to leave town with me tomorrow & sheís talking about going to her parentsí house & living there a couple weeks until we get jobs & our own place, but all of this will probably change when she wakes up sober tomorrow morning.
 
 

Linda

Iím walking down the street & a car pulls up beside me. When I see her, I know I recognize her, but I have no idea who she is. Iím amazed when she says my name, "Brian?" The moment she does, I know exactly who she is because she has this little lisp thing & Iíve only ever known one girl with one. "Oh, wow. Hi, Linda, how are things going?" "Theyíre okay I guess, I just bought a new car...." She keeps talking about how in the sixth grade we were in social studies & gym together & all these people told me that she liked me, but I never acted on it because I was afraid it was some elaborate joke &/or my friends would make fun of me going out with her. (Not that she wasnít pretty, in retrospect she was probably the girl I knew at the time who most fit what I like in girls now (not that I really know), but at the time I just thought people were pretty only if someone else said so to validate it & no one did about her.) In gym class she sometimes wore this shirt that said "Virginia" across the breasts (or more of where they would eventually be since she was eleven) & I think the shirt was pink. One day my alleged best friend at the time was saying that she was wearing the shirt for me because she was a virgin & didnít want to be & wanted me to know it; but she didnít want to be too obvious about it, so she added the "ia" at the end. I remember this other time when we were eighteen finding out all this random stuff about her like that her older brother died in a car accident & that she did drugs & drank a lot, a whole lot, the trunk of her car was better stocked than almost any parentsí liquor cabinet. Sheís still talking & Iím looking at her thinking sheís turned out really well because sheís still skinny (that drug addict kind of skinny that I personally find really attractive) & has clear skin & nice hair & is how I expected twenty-two year olds to look when I was fifteen. Itís my turn to speak & I ask, "Are you still into acid & drinking?" I know itís rude, but I want to know. "Oh, yeah. I canít really get acid that much anymore because I made a conscious attempt to remove myself from that scene, but I still get it any time it pops up. But I really love drinking because itís legal & easy like me. I just drink myself to oblivion alone sometimes & it just makes me feel so beautiful & powerful, like Iím some kind of deity or whatever." "I like drinking a lot too. I have to kind of hold myself away a little because thereís loads of alcoholism in my family & it seems like it could destroy me so easily & I donít have anybody I could really trust to say, ĎYouíre drinking too much.í So I just have to hold myself back to only drinking once or twice a month instead of the nightly stupor Iíd prefer. I canít really get acid anymore because I just donít have much social contact anymore. I really miss it though. I still love it to death & nothing will ever replace little Miss LSD." Sheís looking at me with this face that says, "I know exactly what youíre fucking talking about." I ask her, "Do you want to go out to eat or something? I only have five dollars." "Sure, get in." She stretches across & opens the passenger door & I get in.
 
 

(mary janes)

I have this job where all these kids line up & I ask each of them what they want & write it down & then somebody else is in charge of bringing their candies & snacks & if any of them get out of line, then everybody gets screwed because they all end up with the wrong stuff. In the middle of the line is a non-kid. Sheís probably seventeen & she looks like the child Melissa Joanhart & Alicia Silverstone would have together. Sheís probably somebodyís sister, but it doesnít matter because sheís in line & I have to take her order. "& what do you want?" "Nothing you could give me." Weíre both using those polite cute hate filled voices you sometimes have to use. "So you donít want anything at all? Not even an Almond Joy?" "No, I already get more than everything I need from my boyfriend." What, she thinks Iím trying to flirt with her? I say, "Okay," & write down "3 Mary Janes" & go to the next kid in line.
 
 

Mchn lv

    Sheís a mechanical doll, but she has a heart & a soul & is one of my favorite people. Sheís taking me to the place where she "grew up" though she canít really remember it; itís more of something that she knows as an obscure fact. The door she opens is the second on the left in the cream hallway & is two & a half feet tall. She pushes a button that looks like a childproof outlet cap & a small light bulb in the back left corner of the room lights up. The roomís about three feet tall & three feet wide & two feet deep. It has a two foot by eight inch brass bed & a to scale oak dresser beside it. When the light goes on her eyes & lips change colors from their normal pink to sky blue. "Can you move the mattress?" She asks, stepping out of the room & I get down on the floor & put my arm in & pull the mattress out of the room. "There you go, Jessica." A woman comes up from behind me & says, "What are you doing?"
    "Oh, sheís from here. She was just...."
    The womanís already stopped paying attention to me & is on her hands & knees sticking her head in the room. The light in the room flashes quickly yellow-yellow-green-blue-red & the woman comes out & starts beating on me trying to get to Jessica. Jessica runs away & when the woman tries to step over me after her I grab her ankle & she falls. She kicks me in the back with her free foot & I let go of her ankle & she gets up & kicks me in the head & leaves. I get up & I fall down & start crawling after them & then make it to my feet & am walking the way they went, but Iím lost so I just go back to Jessicaís room & sit to wait.
 
 

meat

Iím in the supermarket walking next to the refrigerated meats & I donít know why because I havenít eaten meat for over five years & Iíd kind of forgotten that people actually buy it & how itís displayed & it seems a bit disturbing to me.
 
 

mm

Sheís driving her car & Iím in the passenger seat & we have one of those relationships where our friends think weíre lovers. Iíd be a liar if I said I never thought about us actually becoming a couple, but Iím perfectly comfortable with things staying as they are for as long as they possibly can. At a stop sign I say to her, "Hold on a second, thereís something I really have to do." I slip out of my seat belt & my face is two inches in front of hers, between her & the windshield. She has her eyes closed & I touch her neck with my right hand & pull off this little strip of facial mask residue that Iíve been staring at & being annoyed by for thirty minutes. I get back to my seat & she turns to me saying, "What was that?" Iím throwing the thing on the floor of the car & I say, "A piece of soap or facial mask or something." "Oh." She turns the rearview mirror & is inspecting herself when a car pulls behind us & honks.
 
 

morning

Iím in the library hiding in a stairwell & I donít know how safe of a place this is. Iím looking out the little door-window into the second floor & I donít see anybody & things look pretty still & seem in pretty good order. I open the door & step into the alcove & walk by a row of windows to the double glass doors & walk in. Iím walking through the aisles & aisles of books for nothing in particular & itís overwhelming. I have this split feeling between wanting to consume all of them & not wanting to read any of them because they all deal with the past, which I canít even relate to anymore. Then I hear a clump-clump-clump like someone with a lame leg walking up stairs & I know itís a zombie walking up the spiral staircase in the center of the room. Iím wondering how many zombies might be in here & Iím hoping itís not many, so I just pull my prybar out of my bookbag instead of a gun. I run out of the aisles to the staircase & heís three steps down from being on this level. I slam the prybar into his head between the eyes & it goes in & his head spins a little to his right as I continue the swing. The pry bar slips out of his head as he falls back down the stairs. I donít see any others around & I donít really want a book anymore so I go to the glass doors I came in through & go back to the stairwell. My adrenaline is cooling down & making me a little spacey & Iím not paying much attention when I open the door to the stairs. I step through the doorway & Iím grabbed by a zombie & we fall to the floor, him on top of me face to face. Heís got his hands clamped on my shirt & is trying to bite my face & Iím holding him a few inches above me with my left hand on his chest & repeatedly hitting him as hard as I can in his left eye with my right hand. Pieces of his brittle dead skin are breaking off & falling on to my face & his eyeís already a bunch of goo. I take my thumb & shove it through his gooey eye into his brain & am twiddling it around inside for a couple seconds before his body stops functioning. I roll him off of me & wipe my hand off on his shirt. Iím lying on the floor for maybe a minute trying to catch my breath before I get up & take my prybar out again. I leave the building & walk home & my girlfriendís going to be pissed at me because I didnít get us any books to read.
 
 

in the movies

Weíre in the movie theater together & I have my left hand lying on our mutual armrest. I slide it down onto her crotch & she picks it up pinching the wrist hard & whispers a scream of "Quit it!" & sets my arm down in my lap. The movie ends & we go back home & are watching television on the couch & I put my hand on her lap again. "Stop it! Donít you know that fucking hurts?" "Oh, Iím sorry. I just thought you were being shy earlier."
 
 

nemesis

    Heís coming after me & he wants to kill me & I donít know or care why. Every time I hear something, I think itís him & Iím in this state of hope & dread for confrontation. Thereís a noise at the door & I open it violently & itís a white dog. It walks in & my girlfriend seems to recognize it, so I figure itís hers or ours (Iím not a big dog fan, one bit me in the face when I was young & I never forgave any of them (I still have scars)). I close the door & go to use the bathroom. When I come back, my girlfriendís sitting on the couch & the villain of the movie of my life is lying down with his head in her lap. "Heh, howís it going?" he says with a smirk, propping himself on his elbows. He looks really disgusting & dirty to me with his short greasy black hair & Iím offended that heís anywhere near my girlfriend. Thereís a shotgun in the corner & before I know whatís happened Iíve fired it in his chest. My girlfriendís gotten up & is staring at him & heís changing shape, turning into a pre-pubescent angel & saying, "Look what youíve killed." He turns back into himself. My girlfriend comes to me & sheís kissing me & holding me tight like sheís more aroused than terrified. She whispers in my ear, "Youíve got to get rid of the body." "Youíre right. I better go bury it. I could never wait the three days to see if it would rise." Iím pushing her away when she says, "Youíve got to cut it up & burn it. Donít worry about the cleaning lady, Iíll take care of her. & donít worry about the gunshot either, Iím sure no one around here knows what one sounds like in the middle of the night."
    The next thing I find myself doing is building a fire in the fire place with the body laid out as if for study & cut into segments on several sheets of newspaper & Iím not sure why, but there isnít any blood. The head & kindling are in the fireplace & Iím about to light it when the head starts talking. "You can burn my body, but please leave my brain. You can even burn my head, just take out the brain." I light the fire & he doesnít bother to scream or say anything else. When I grab a piece of leg to put on, it has partially re-congealed & when I pull the pieces apart an olive oil looking stuff leaks onto the newspaper. When I put the leg in, the room starts to fill with smoke. I open the flue which has somehow shut itself & am choking in the smoke. Its taste isnít as horrible as Iíd expected & seems like a cross between burning sugar & plastic. I find myself sucking it in deeply & enjoying it much too much, so I cram the body & papers in the fireplace & put up the screen & go to the kitchen & curl up in a ball & try to sleep while my bodyís shaking itself.
 
 

New Guinea Pig

Iím tied down to a table & so are hundreds around me. The doctors say weíre suffering from some type of plague, but I feel fine & think Iím just a guinea pig for some fucking vicious experiment. A couple of doctors come up & oneís got a needle & the syringe chamber is an inch wide & six inches long & they inject it in my stomach & one says, "Well, letís see if the shark cartilage has an effect." My stomach starts burning & my body starts shaking & breaks the restraints holding me to the table. I start running & I canít even see the walls where the room ends & before I know it Iím dragged down by one of those noose on a stick snake handling things. Itís tight & I canít breathe & Iím pulling at the rope around my neck with my fingers while the guy with the stick kicks me in the ribs & everything goes black.
 
 

No Jís

I really think I hate her. I havenít hated anyone in years because I feel it weakens me & empowers them. Sheís the most self-centered, most obnoxious, & meanest person I have ever met. Sheíll tell you something you said last week to her was her idea & say youíre an asshole for trying to steal it. She looks like a harpy or maybe some kind of hybrid from a hyena & a vulture (though others think sheís beautiful). She looks like she should be chewing on bones & I keep wanting to cram one down her throat so she would shut the fuck up. I wish she was dead. I wish I never had to hear her or anything about her ever again. I wish I had amnesia & could forget her completely. Maybe I should kill myself to avoid her.
 
 

Now

Iím suddenly not in love with her anymore. Iíve been fascinated by her for years & I think that sheís changed now. Sheís not innocent & serene & potentially dangerous anymore. Sheís safe in a surrounded-by-friends-do-as-expected-&-be-dangerous-enough-to-be-interesting way. She has friends & she seems to have found herself, though not in the places I hoped she would. I donít think I have anything to offer her.
 
 

obsessive past

Sheís one of the four girls in the world that I would like to fuck. I havenít seen her in a while & Iím kind of upset that she has a boyfriend. I donít want to have to share her with anybody & that she already has a boyfriend makes me feel like she has no use for me. I have this assumption that people donít get involved &/or stay involved with relationships that arenít 100% satisfying because theyíre just too much trouble. Itís not true for me at all though, Iíll stay in a relationship until the other person doesnít like me anymore & sometimes a bit longer than that just because Iím so afraid of being alone which it ends up I almost always am. I just hate so many people because I know how mean they can be, so I avoid meeting new ones. But I love this girl. Itís like sheíd be Batgirl & Iíd be Robin; but there never was a Batman, so neither of us would become superheroes & neither of us would ever meet or fully appreciate each other.
 
 

On the girl I love

Sometimes I feel like Iím Eeyore & she must be Piglet. That Iím slow & slightly clumsy & somewhat bitter & sheís a little meek & scared & cautious. That Iíll get shot in the side with three arrows protecting her & Iíd die if she wasnít there to heal me afterwards.
 
 

Orion

    I feel like Iím going to die tonight. I feel like Iím going to die a lot of nights. Iím walking on the street & the buzz & flicker of the street lights is making my eyes roll back. I feel like theyíre trying to pull me twenty feet above myself. To turn me into something more. I close my eyes & when I open them I feel as intoxicated as Iíve ever been & it feels like fairies are gently tugging on every hair on my body. The streetís sparkles look warm & I lie on them & pass out.
    I wake up & my face is swollen & my mouth has blood in it & Iím crying looking at my reflection in the mirror over the sink & the tears are burning my face. Iím cleaning myself & the water still isnít warm when Iím finished. When I stop crying & get a clear look, I donít look nearly as bad as I thought. I donít really look anymore hideous than usual. I take my clothes off & sit in the corner facing the door I forgot to close. I can feel that I should be cold; but Iím not, Iím actually sweating. I fall asleep & it feels so real.
    Iím dreaming. I can tell by the way my head hurts only on the right side. Itís not really a hurt, itís more like the sensation of ice on a fresh bruise. Thatís numbness I guess. Iím not talking to this woman whoís probably in her sixties sitting in a room with me, but we obviously have some relation to each other. Sheís working on a latch hook rug & Iím trying to read an old paperback book, but I canít concentrate enough so instead Iím stroking the edges of the future pages with the fingers of my right hand. I turn my head up & sheís gotten out of the chair & is standing in front of me & thereís a bright light from somewhere so I canít look at her face. Sheís asking me, "What time is it?" I look at my watch & it has hands so itís hard for me to read, but eventually I say, "Nine minutes to two." She says, "One-fifty-one. Not a time for fun. Not what youíd choose, but what you have to lose." She takes me by the hand & leads me to a window. She has her hands in the left corner & I have mine on the right corner & in the center & weíre trying to open it, but it gets stuck after a few inches. The woman turns her head sideways & leans it out the window shouting, "One-fifty-two, nothing for you."
    I wake up & hit my head against the wall. I go to my room & get dressed. I walk downstairs & open the refrigerator looking for something to eat, but itís too much trouble.
    Iím lying on the couch not even thinking, but just spacing out, when the doorbell rings. I get up & open the door & itís my friend Jason, thank god itís someone responsible. My arm that was leaning on the doorway collapses & Jason catches me.
    When I wake up, itís dark outside. I want to light the moon on fire so itís never dark again. Time wouldnít be as substantial then, Iíd just be able to function at whatever random time I feel Iím able to. "Are you alright?" He has a hand on each of my shoulders & is shaking me a little. "Yeah, Iím fine." I get up & I see that itís 10:21 & I go to the window saying, "Oh my god." "What is it?" I look outside & the center star of Orionís belt is missing & I know itís coming to take me over again. "Nothing," & then the star hits me, beginning with its haze, feeling like a reversed echo.
 
 

Others

I really donít like humans much. Iíve been pretty confident of it & been avoiding them for months, but now when I spend time with them they annoy me more than ever. Every fucking one of them tries to make themselves look like a savior or at least some kind of martyr. Meanwhile, basically none of them have anything to complain about. Their wounds usually arenít even self-inflicted; they simply donít even exist. They sit there lying, telling the saddest story they know & putting themselves in the starring role. Why canít they admit theyíre insignificant? Why canít they be happy with what they are? Nothing.
 
 

pale blue capsule

It makes me feel alive & dead at the same time. I unquestionably exist, but Iím not sure in what state. My sensations are somewhere between pain & nothing at all, maybe itís alternating. I hope death is this wonderful. This is so much more interesting than anything else. My body feels like a hand & Iím clenching at nothing & the nothing is slipping through me. I feel like a piece of past & I only believe in the present.
 
 

Paper

When I was eight years old, I was really disgusted by the kids who ate paper. I thought they were animals. I thought that real humans wouldnít do that. Now I eat paper every day. I consume it. Thereís no reason for it. I still donít understand it & think itís disgusting. It makes me feel like Iím not really human anymore. Iím not even sure that itís such a bad thing. I donít mind existing this way because I donít have to think anymore. All I have to do is wait until I donít exist.
 
 

Patti

Iím listening to music & Iím very sleepy & very high. The light of the room seems very weak & makes me feel cold even when I go directly under it. I press stop on the cd player & the music does, but Patti Smith keeps singing at me. I turn the power off & she still wonít stop. Sheís inside my head screaming, "Jesus died for somebodyís sins, but not mine."
 
 

Photofuture

I need to start taking drugs again because my headís starting to hurt from being sober too long. Iím starting to remember my past much too clearly. When I close my eyes, pages of books I read six years ago are coming up clearly enough to read & Iím constantly hearing random conversations I had with people I havenít seen in years. Itís overwhelming & makes me feel like Iím going insane because I canít deal with my mind functioning this well. Iíve got to run away from myself.
 
 

plastic gun

Heís shooting at me with this red & yellow plastic gun with a crank on the side. Itís shooting out these creme colored lightning bolt shaped things about two inches long. They seem to be moving incredibly slowly, as if they might fall to the ground at any moment, but theyíre somehow powerful enough that they penetrate into the walls completely. He stops shooting suddenly as if his gun is empty or jammed & I run away as fast as I can.
 
 

Plates

Iím at where she works or near where she works. Iím not exactly sure which. When I see her, I start walking twenty feet in front of her & go out of the building to her sparkling white car. Itís not sparkling as much as usual because itís very cloudy & thereís no sun. Iím standing at her passenger door waiting, my left hand on the handle. She comes up to the driver side, not looking up, possibly not noticing me. She turns her key & unlocks all the doors & I open mine & get in & weíre going to lunch. The car starts & as she turns out of the parking lot I have this strange feeling like a balloon swelling behind my left eye. I close my eyes & it feels like Iím asleep & one hundred people are suspending me in the air by pinching the right side of my body & holding on. I open my eyes & Iím driving in my car alone, but I can see her car two cars ahead of me. Iím scared that sheís trying to lose me & that I annoy her, but she canít bring herself to say it, so this is how sheíll tell me. I feel like crying, but instead Iím trying to convince myself that anybody who doesnít have enough whatever to just be honest isnít worth my time. Maybe anyone who really is great & smart & beautiful enough to be worth my time has better things to do than even notice me & is being forgetful instead of dishonest. Sheís parking her car on the street in what seems to be a random place & I park behind her. I get out of the car & she meets me at the gap between our cars. Her car doesnít seem to have the same luster it did earlier & neither does she. The grey sky looks very dense & very close; it has purple & magenta veins cracking through parts like itís old & tired & ready to die. She has her hands at her side & a white china plate in each hand. She raises the one in her right hand to me saying, "Here." I take it & say, "Thank you." She turns away from me & starts walking & I follow her like the dog I sometimes want to be. Weíre standing in the middle of the street at the top of a hill & she takes my plate from me & sets them both on the ground. She pushes at my shoulder with her right hand & guides me to a position sitting on the plate & then takes her position beside me on the other plate. She hits me on the back & I start going down spinning & I see her pushing herself off. Iím going faster & spinning faster & my bodyís starting to hurt. Somehow I manage to manipulate my body so my hands are on the edge of the plate & my wrists & elbows are locked holding me parallel to the ground, six inches above it. Iím scared that Iím going to lose my balance & scrape my face off.
 
 

pool room

Iím at a club & Iím not sober. The walls to the room Iím in are wood paneling & go up ten feet which is two feet short of the ceiling. The room is fairly small (it doesnít even have a doorway just a gap in the wall), its center of attention is a pool table which the room is too small for so one end is only a foot from the wall which makes it a different game to play. There are four people in the room & I donít recognize the other three. I sit down on a spray painted metal folding chair (the only place to sit in the room) & the girl comes over as the two boys shoot pool. Sheís probably five-five & has frizzy black chin length hair. Sheís wearing this tight black thing that turns into a skirt at the bottom that reaches halfway down the thigh & ends with half-inch triangles. Iím passing out & she says, "Can I sit there?" Pointing at where I am. I stand up & she says, "With you, not instead of you." I sit back down & sheís twisting my body & Iím facing forward with my right leg on the chair & my left leg strapped over her lap like a safety belt (her bodyís facing the left & her face is turned towards mine) & I have my right hand on her right shoulder & she has her left hand on my left shoulder to keep balance. Sheís smiling at me & her teeth look very white & very sharp. "This is pretty comfortable," she says leaning to kiss my left cheek while raising her skirt with her right hand to show me her black lacy underwear. The two boys are still shooting pool & not even noticing us & I wonder if they can see us. She takes my left hand & slips my thumb into her under wearís waist band & Iím falling asleep & the last thing I feel is my head banging against the wall.
 
 

Pre

I donít have any pain or suffering to call my own, so I take his & claim it & act as if itís mine. I emulate him because Iím more in love with him than myself. I would be so much better if I were him. I wouldnít hate myself. I wouldnít despise my ease of life; because living wouldnít be a hobby or a habit, but an ongoing struggle. I want to be him so I know somebody somewhere will love me.
 
 

a prodigy

Theyíre on the tv with their stolen child. Theyíre talking in a voice over about falling asleep, the senseless stuff you say to someone you trust as you lose consciousness when you first start sleeping with them. But the image on the television is their missing child. A two year old playing a xylophone piano. Not just banging on it, but playing it deliberately. his song is haunting & surreal & slow & shocking. Simultaneously beautiful & painful.
 
 

prophets

Iím in my room & Iím not alone. I really kind of wish I was. Iím surrounded by these people who are prophets or something & theyíre all wearing hooded robes so I canít even see their faces. There are nine of them. Theyíre telling me that there are all these things that I need to do that I donít want to do. They say I donít have any independent choice any more. I have to do exactly what has already happened. I have to die for them. Iím starting to break down. Iím crying & my mouthís open & my jawís quivering. I donít want to function this way. I canít function this way. I am dying for them.
 
 

Purpose

Talking to me is like talking to yourself. I donít have anything to say for myself or about myself because itís something I hate & want to forget about, so I just reflect an image of you & when I can I try to make it a little more beautiful. I try to make you a little more beautiful & take the ugliness inside myself since I already find myself revolting. I want to be the ugliest man in the world for you. It wonít matter to me if you avoid me then. It wonít matter if you hate me. It wonít matter if you do it now.
 
 

red clay

The brown fur blends somewhat against the mountain of red clay, but I still see her. Sheís rolling two black garbage bags down the mountain of clay & I can hear a noise coming out of them. I go to where the dirt & weeds turn into an asphalt parking lot. The bag is writhing as if itís alive. I open it & a tiny sasquatch screams & scratches at me. I back away for a second & it climbs out of the bag & runs into the woods. The mother glares at me from on top of the clay & Iím afraid for a moment of what might happen & what already has. She goes down into the woods to find her child.
 
 

red star

Sometimes I hate being an addict. Sometimes it makes me a little dishonest & thatís annoying. Thereíll be some guy whoís a total jerk & I have to act civil to him because later I might have to try & use him to score & if I donít act kind to him heíll start telling people fucked up shit about me & people will be afraid to sell to me because Iím too wigged out.
 
 

repairs

A friend of mine & his girlfriend are staying over & Iím not sure why because Iím intoxicated, but I guess they probably are too & thatís why. Weíre all going to sleep on my bed or actually more of passing out on my bed. The two of them are kind of squished together & curled up at one end & Iím curled up at the other. I donít really notice any passage of time, but I hear some noise & I look outside & itís light out now & I look out the window & thereís this guy in my driveway fucking with my car. I get out of bed & Iíd slept with my clothes & even my shoes on, so I go right outside. The guyís wearing a jumpsuit & heís old & balding with gray hair & skinny & an inch taller than me. "What are you doing to my car?" "Oh, you werenít supposed to see me. Iím fixing it so you need repairs." I step up to him so heís backed against the car & Iím a few inches from him, "What the hell are you talking about?" "You donít think cars break down on their own do you? I help them along." "Who do you work for?" "Service Repairs." Iím fed up with this & I kick the guy on the side of his left leg & when he turns I kick him in the ass & he falls down on all fours & I say, "Get the hell out of my yard." He doesnít get up right away, so I kick him in the ribs & a ratchet falls out of the jumpsuit. I pick the ratchet up & say, "Get the hell out of my yard," again & then turn around & go back inside & back to bed.
 
 

Resisting Birth

Iím in the womb & I donít want to leave. I heard rumors before I existed this way about being alive. That it isnít that beautiful & you have to breathe constantly & itís incredibly painful. I wish I didnít have to be born, but the flesh around me is smothering me & the woman Iím inside is forcing me out. I die for a minute & when I wake up Iím in the open air & my memories are gone.
 
 

Room Mates

Theyíre trying to fuck quietly in a bed four feet away from mine. Itís really obnoxious & disgusting & is keeping me awake & even if the noises didnít, her nasty smell would. For twenty dollars they could get their own room & fuck their worthless hearts out, but I guess they realize their love isnít worth that much.
 
 

a savior

Heís typical. Heís just a normal man who followed his dreams. He followed them long enough to see they werenít really his. Now heís suspicious of everybody. He spends a lot of time alone trying to figure out who or what he wants to be & it usually just leads to him drinking. Drinking is something almost of his own, because he canít attribute his love for it to the suggestion or disgust of any one particular person. He feels it can transform him into himself. It reveals truth to him. It is his friend & his god & would probably make a better lover than the woman who suffers beside him. He knows which one he loves more, because he knows which one made him a failure.
 
 

a seduction

Sheís at the beach for vacation & meets him at the horse stable. Heís young (though older than her of course) & very pretty to look at & very self-assured. Sheís flattered & shocked by his interest in her & follows him to his home when he asks her to. Before she realizes it, heís already taken most of his clothes off & is asking her to. She just says, "No," & sits down in a chair. He comes towards her somewhat quickly & violently & she kicks him in the chest with both feet. She stands up as he falls to the ground & starts kicking him. She only gets one good kick to the head before he covers it with his arms & then moves down to his stomach. She doesnít stop until heís vomiting on the hardwood floor.
 
 

a show

Iím standing in my void when she touches me. I turn around to her & she has this blank face that might be incapable of expression. Aside from that she looks really hideous to me, thereís no particular reason why. She drifts off of me & I feel better & I turn back around. A few minutes pass & I feel hands on my back & then at my sides. I know it must be her again & I know she must be drunk or high & I ignore her in hopes sheíll go away & she does. I close my eyes & I feel like I might pass out into myself when I feel her wrap her right arm around my shoulders & pull me against her. I look at her & her blond hair looks dry & brittle like itís about to fall out of her head. Her face looks over worn like some sort of leather mask & I want to pull it off for a second before I realize sheís not worth my effort. Sheís talking at me, but I canít understand what sheís saying. Itís like sheís speaking the secret language of aging drunken whores & I donít have the time or inclination to decipher it. I just turn away & stare straight forward. When she steps back from me, I walk away to go hide.
 
 

sins of the flesh

Iím on acid because Iím on acid a lot & Iím in love with little Miss LSD. The stuff I took today is nasty or at least itís nasty to me. My back feels like itís going to shatter & my joints hurt when I move & every few seconds it feels like someoneís yanking on my fingernails to make them grow a little faster. I keep thinking, "Iím going to fucking die." "No, Iím not; I only took three hits & Iíve done more before." "Before doesnít matter, you need to get to the fucking hospital, the consequences of that would be easier to deal with than death." "Iím not so sure of that." I bang my head on the wall & these voices start coming out of the wall that arenít mine. Theyíve probably been stuck in it for years & I just smacked the wall & now theyíre falling out. "Sins of the flesh, sins of the cloth." "I just canít go on this way," a womanís voice almost crying. "Itís not that hard, just pretend nothing ever happened." "But itís not...." She starts crying & the moment she does, it feels like Iím drained out of my skull into the back of hers. That Iíve become the ultimate voyeur, able to hear her thoughts & see exactly what she sees. What she is keeps bombarding me, these overwhelming feelings of dread & abandonment & isolation & violence. Iím forced to watch all these random mini one to two second films all played simultaneously at high speed involving her & am just absorbing all these moments of pain & betrayal when her eyes are closed & sheís crying. The man touches her on the shoulders & her eyes open & the words "sins of the flesh, sins of the cloth" start repeating inside her head sounding more & more demonic & she starts screaming, "Get out of this fucking house!" & hitting him in the chest & he leaves. Sheís mopping her tears with her hair & she goes into the bathroom. Sheís got her arms locked leaning on the counter & is staring in the eyes of her own reflection. Sheís saying, mocking someone, "Oh, youíre so fucking pretty. Oh, youíre so fucking beautiful. You couldnít possibly have any problems." She straightens her body up & puts her left hand up to her forehead. "God. Iím so fucking hideous." She makes a face at herself & then she opens the door to the medicine cabinet & picks up a bottle of pills & I know who this is & I know whatís going to happen & I need to find a way back to my body before I die along with this girl. She pours the pills in her hand & there are only nine of them & she puts them in her mouth & I can taste their nasty taste & she cups water in her hand & drinks them down & I know Iím fucking scared of dying & I need to get out of the dead girl who used to live here. She goes to her room & she closes the door & leaves the light turned off & goes to her closet & puts on her wedding dress & says in her mocking voice, "Itís going to be such a beautiful wedding," & I recognize the voice sheís mocking as her motherís who I met once when my parents were buying this house. Her bodyís getting cold & everythingís feeling a little off & blurry & she falls & crawls to her bed & gets on & pulls this patchwork quilt thatís main color is red over her & I really donít think I want to die right now. I pop back out of her into myself & Iím staring at the television & itís one of those loud commercials where theyíre showing these bending purpley yellowey golden lines that turn into the CBS symbol & it sings out, "All those who love great comedy; say, ĎI!í"
 
 

SIXTH GRADE GIRLS

The lights are flashing like lightning in the hallway & Iím running as fast as I can & the thing chasing me is toying with me & occasionally running beside me & craning its head to look me dead in the eyes & smile & then let me get ahead again. The floor is linoleum & when the hall turns to the right I canít quite manage it & I smack against the wall & spin for a second but keep running. The hallway ends suddenly at a brown door that has a plaque at eye level that reads, "SIXTH GRADE GIRLS." (I turn around to be consumed.)
 
 

slave

Iím at some club & Iím high & Iíve been drinking. The only thing I can really notice about the club is it has cool lights & the second floor area where I am has a metal grate floor so you can see below you & it makes it hard for me to keep my balance. I go to go down the stairs & this blond-haired-blue-eyed girl grabs me & pulls my body against hers & starts dancing. Weíre on the stairs writhing to the music together for I donít know how long & then she pushes me away a little & says, "Do you want to go to a movie?" Iím staring at her teeth which look clean, but a little gray instead of an obnoxiously bright white & I say, "Yeah, sure." She goes off somewhere & I wander off & I feel stupid because I shouldíve given her my phone number (I know I could never remember hers in my state) & now Iíll never see her again.
 
 

smthng

Iím waking up & as I do I realize Iím not in my own bed. Iím not in my room & I donít know whose room Iím in, but thereís a small black & white television turned on sitting partially obscured by random crap on a dresser. Itís an episode of the Real Ghostbusters, but itís not one Iíve seen before. The ghosts are more monstrous & less human than usual. There are some that are in the Ghostbustersí basement & Iím not sure if theyíre there by choice or not & Egon & Ray are watching them. The ghosts are huddled in a little mass with their backs turned. Egon & Ray say to each other, "Why are they doing that?" "Doing what?" "Learning to read." The shot cuts to Janine smiling at her desk & then the credits run with no conclusion or "to be continued." I think itís supposed to mean something.
 
 

Spectacular

She doesnít speak english very well. It makes her all the more perfect, because I just want someone to be with & not talk to. I donít have anything to say to anyone any more. Iím not spectacular enough to want to share myself with others. I just want to feel her warmth against me & let her melt me away.
 
 

Tarot Cards

My brotherís screwing around with tarot cards when I realize I can read them. Itís not the way youíre supposed to, itís the pattern on the back. When I look at them then away & back real fast the line patterns turn into words. Theyíre not incredibly sensicle & they hurt for me to read. One has on it, "fortune not me life." Itís just fucking with me too much, so I leave the room.
 
 

Teeny-bopper

    Iím on speed today because I havenít been able to find any acid for a while. Iím going to get some more paint from the cart in the front of the room & Iím too lazy to walk properly so Iím doing this stuttering foot dragging slide. Iím listening to all the conversations at all the different art tables at the same time & itís all incoherent & jumbled together. Iím squirting the tempera paint on to my plastic pallet & Iím getting lots of yellow; I need lots of yellow. I hear laughter from the table where most of the girls sit (natural segregation) so it attracts my attention. Iím listening to them & one of the long blond-haired ones says to the one with long black wavy hair, "Well, who do you like in this class?" "Scott seems cool & the boy over there that always wears a hat & that one getting paint is kinda cute." Sheís not talking very loud & if I was sober I wouldnít be able to hear her, but Iím not & I did. Instead of going back to my table, I go to hers & sit on the corner of her chair with her & say, "Hello."
    "Hello," she says turning to the rest of the table wide-eyed & open mouthed & then back to me. "We were just talking about you & we had a question."
    "What?"
    "Why do you always walk like that?"
    "Like what?"
    "With your feet dragging on the floor." She has this terrific accent that Iím not sure is real. Itís not american & thatís good.
    "Oh. Itís just too much work to pick them up."
    "So how far is your project along?" Sheís mixing colors & splotching them on scrap paper, but not even really painting yet.
    "I just finished the one, do you wanna see it?"
    "Sure."
    I go back to my table & I put my pallet down & pick up my little painting. Itís an eighteen inch tall by two inch wide strip of a melting orange & purple landscape with an apple tree. I take it over to her & set it down to her right side.
    The girl with straight blond hair across from her says, "Wow."
    She turns to me & says, "Thatís nice." I canít tell if sheís being sarcastic or not because Iím on speed & paranoid that she must be. "Will you do my project?"
    "I canít do your project. I need to turn in a bunch of stuff because Iím in AP art." My head quivers & I close my eyes & feel them grinding across the eyelids. The girl with straight blond hair is putting her stuff away, so I ask, "Is the bell about to ring?"
    "Yeah."
    "Well, bye then." I go back to my table & Iím putting all my supplies away. The bell rings & I pick up my books & leave.
 
 

telephone

Iím laying down staring up at a bare light bulb hoping & waiting for her to call. I donít move except when I mistake the sounds of traffic for the phone (the phone is broken & doesnít ring, but makes a jittery twitchy noise like a cat scratching itself). Iím afraid that sheís dead or worse (though I canít think of anything worse right now). The light is hurting my eyes & my throat is dry, but I think if I stop concentrating on her for a moment sheíll never call & Iíll forget who she is.
 
 

time change

I just got to school today & Iím not sure what grade Iím in. Iím so fucked up that the past & future are smearing together. I remember things with a fair amount of detail for the next five to eight years depending on how old I am right now. Iím trying to figure out a tactful way to find out what grade Iím in & what my schedule is & where my locker is & what my locker combination is; some way to find all this out where I donít look like some idiot whoís fried his brain. I go & sit down in this little secret corner in the front lobby by the radiator & close my eyes & a lot of time seems to have passed by when I open them because the lobby area is empty now except for the people waiting in line to get absent slips. I roll up my jacket sleeve to see what time it is & my Tetris watch says 7:32 & I know school doesnít start until 7:50. I go up to this girl in the line who I probably donít know, but who looks familiar. I ask her, "What time is it?" Sheís looking at me all nice, so I figure either weíre friends or sheís just that way. She adjusts her backpack a little & looks at her watch & says, "A few minutes after eight." "Man, my watch says 7:30." "Did you remember to change it yesterday?" "I donít know. Besides, then it would be off by an hour." "No, they changed it so there are two half hour changes." "What? How the hell am I supposed to keep up with things like that?" She starts laughing at me & I walk away. I have this feeling like Iím supposed to be going to a math class, but I donít want to be there & I couldnít deal with trying to explain things there right now, so I go to the art room. The teacherís real cool & liberal or maybe slightly irresponsible which amounts to the same thing for me right now. I go in & I donít talk to anybody or make any eye contact. I get a tube of green acrylic paint & a scrap of bristol board & start finger painting at a table by myself. Iím sprawling out on the table with my face against its surface as Iím painting & I canít even really see what Iím doing. Iím tired & I pass out.
 
 

Tina

    "Iím going to have to go to bed soon."
    "Oh, I guess Iíd better be going then."
    "If you want to."
    Her offerís very flattering. Iím thinking about how it would feel for her to embrace me & shove barbs into my back & up into her forearms (she has a fascination with barbwire & wears it as jewelry). Her just holding me tighter & tighter as our blood flows out of & into each other. Her skin seems paler now & is glowing slightly blue. Sheís scaring me because she seems to be so beautiful & beautiful girls arenít supposed to like me. I open my eyes & sheís already on the bed with a blanket pulled over her. My body collapses into a ball on the floor & Iím laying on my left side staring up to the bed. I donít know what I want & it makes me feel weak. I Feel like any girl so available to me must be worthless & so my desire for her is unfounded. The light goes out & I feel her pulling me up to the bed. Maybe if I worship her     enough sheíll become valuable. Maybe if I could love her enough sheíd be worth loving.
 
 

tootie

    "Why donít you give it to me? Everything youíve created or ever will." Her voice is seductive.
    I want to please her because Iíve had a crush on her or at least the televisionís version of her that Iím familiar with for fifteen years or so. But she wants me to give her my soul in exchange for seeing her twinkley smile live & in person. "No, I donít think Iíd better."
    She comes up to me & sheís leaning her body against me like sheís a slut now (though maybe she really always has been) & the only thing important is getting another soul to consume so she doesnít feel empty for a few days more. "Come on, what else are you gonna do with all that stuff stuck inside you?" Sheís talking in her pouty voice that was once the cute thing she was most known for.
    "Umm, I donít know. Just save it for later I guess."
    I can feel her right hand on the back of my head & it feels like some part of it is going inside my skull & molesting my brain, making me hallucinate & causing problems with me thinking straight. Then she kisses me & I can feel my soul slipping away to her & I know that it has been for years slowly through the television.
 
 

TV Dinner

    Iím a guest at some friendís apartment. It might be my girlfriend since the four people who live here are girls, but Iím not sure of that. Iím not even sure which of the four of them Iím associated with. At any rate somebody made me this tv dinner & Iím eating the corn trying to figure out how to get rid of the salisbury steak the dinnerís built around because I donít eat meat, but donít want to seem rude. When I get to the fruit salad, Iím shocked because itís chilled even though the corn & mashed potatoes were hot & it tastes really good & it just doesnít make sense to me. One of the doors to one of the bedrooms opens & this girl with short black hair steps out. Sheís wearing white tights & a navy-blue velvet uniform style dress with a mandarin collar & a zipper thatís two inches to the left of the center of the back. "Why isnít he fucking here? He was supposed to be here two hours ago & he hasnít called or anything." I just finished the fruit salad & Iím putting the tray on the coffee table in front of me. "You could come with me & Jake if you want." The voice is coming from slightly behind me & to my left & I turn to see a girl by the front door who I think for a second might be the otherís twin. Sheís wearing the same dress & red tights & also has short black hair & has the same thin beautiful junkie body style, but then I realize their faces donít look similar. "Shut up, Karen. Heís coming." She walks over to the table & picks up my tray, then sits down & starts eating the steak with the same fork I used.
 
 

Two heads one body

    I have two heads. Iíd look almost normal if I didnít, my waist is thirty-one inches & around my shoulders is forty-four inches. My heads are so close together they canít turn to face each other. I shouldnít really say, "I have two heads," but I am the right side & the left side never talks, it just stares straight ahead. I donít even know if it functions properly. It doesnít eat & I take care of its grooming to make it look like me. I have a fear of it & its dead eyes taking over.
 
 

Two Ugliest Men
 

    They are the two ugliest men in the world. One created by God & the other by & for man. They canít both exist as they are. The one created by man wants to steal the otherís ugliness for his own. The one created by God wants to kill the other so he can exist alone & unquestionably be the ugliest man. The violence is shocking to the one created by man when they meet. He absorbs the otherís ugliness & purifies & beautifies him with each of his soft touches as his body is bruised. He hurts more than usual as the creation of God becomes attractive. Godís child is standing over him in a perfect image kicking the ugliest man in the stomach. They both are successful.
 
 

underpass

Itís cold & itís wet & Iím sitting here shivering & hoping. Iím hoping this cold will knock me to my senses & make me care if I live or die before I do. I fucking hate this apathy & bitterness Iíve built into myself. I donít want to have to hurt all the time anymore. Hurting isnít cool or trendy anymore & I want to stop crying randomly without a reason I can explain. I donít want a lot, just something to care about. Something.
 
 

up

    Iíve been up on speed for three days & my bodyís getting really old & rubbery looking & feeling. Iím so dehydrated that when I go to the bathroom it hurts & the piss drools out of me. I drink two glasses of water & snort another bump & start cleaning, scrubbing the floor of my room on my hands & knees.
 
 

wall

    There are voices coming from my wall. I canít understand them well because theyíre very bassie & distorted. Like theyíre only playing at half speed. There are two of them talking & I canít tell if theyíre talking to each other or trying to talk to me. When I touch the wall the voices stop; I can feel something writhing away. Something trapped between the paint & plaster. I want to be trapped too & Iím pushing my body against the wall & scratching it with my fingernails trying to create my own voice (even if I donít know what Iím saying). Thereís a ripple from the wall that pushes me off of it, slamming me to the floor & Iím bombarded by a thousand voices & I can understand every one of them as if theyíre each in a syringe & injecting themselves separately but in unison across my body.
 
 

Worms

    Itís storming somewhat violently & Iím surprised when the doorbell rings. I go downstairs & open the door & itís some big guy in a black suit. "Is your father here?"
    "Hold on a second." I close the door in his face, not letting him in, & go up to my fatherís study. I knock & open the door.
    Nothing is what Iím used to it being. The only light is from a desk lamp & an aquarium. The aquarium has a bunch of pink eels about an inch in diameter in it. They look like intestines with teeth. My father is in some kind of military uniform & staring at a computer screen (I thought he worked for a corporation).
    "Thereís a...."
    "I know all about it," he says, loosening his tie & unbuttoning the top button of his shirt. Heís typing away & I hear gunshots. "Letís see what happens now." A metal tube shoots out of the floor & my dadís grabbing the eels & dropping them down it. I back out of the room & a guy in a suit (a thinner taller one than was at the door earlier) knocks me down back into it & he shoots my father as heís dropping the last eel in the pipe. He shoots my father twice more in the head & there are quarter inch holes going all the way through him, but no blood. He falls forward onto the pipe & it slides up through him as he goes to the floor & there still isnít any blood.
    "Heís down," the man in the suit is talking into a headset. "The worms are gone. Probably shot down to the basement." He leaves & Iím scared.
    It takes me a moment, but I get up & go across the hall to my bedroom & look out the window & half the yard is filled by fast moving water & there are blue electrical bolts arcing randomly. I knock out the window & jump out to a tree & jump & climb my way across the river to the neighborís yard. The blue bolts are splitting some of the trees & smashing them together.
    I look to the house & my momís on the deck & sheís yelling at me. "How did you get there?!"
    "Hold on, Iíll come get you!" I have to go back the way I came which is actually easier because the partially fallen trees lessen the number of jumps.
    Iím climbing into my room & I go downstairs. One of the men is in the dining room talking on his headset. "After we get the worms, total clean up. Burn the house down."
    I keep walking to get to the deck. The door to the basement is open & the basement is full of water & there are three men with one of the worms, now eight inches in diameter & at least ten feet long, putting it into some long glass container. Theyíre too busy to notice me & I go to the living room & to the deck & take my motherís left hand with my right. Iím leading her back to my room & for some reason I grab a gun sitting on the floor next to one of the glass containers (there are nine of them, four of them stacked & filled with the pink worms). We make it back to my room & Iím telling her, "You need to jump over to that tree."
    "I canít"
    "You have to."
    "No." She turns away from the window.
    "Itís only a few feet & you donít have a choice." Iím pushing her out the window & she jumps.
    "Where do you think youíre going?" The voice comes from behind me.
    I donít bother to think. I just turn & start pulling the trigger & it blams four times. I hit him in the left shoulder & he doesnít even lose his balance. Heís bleeding; I canít see it, but I can smell it.
    I turn back to the window & jump. I spread my arms like I really think it will make me fly. I end up landing against one of the fallen trees & Iím moving as fast as I can when I see one of the worms in the river. Itís at least eighteen inches wide & it starts writhing & the broken trees are falling completely & going along in the rush of water, including the one Iím on. Thereís one of the blue lightning bolts hitting the worm & itís coming from the man I shot whoís hanging out the window. I keep floating & I canít see the house anymore & Iím still holding onto the gun.
 
 

zinester

Iím 12 years old, but Iíve got the same consciousness & angst as a homeless twenty year old. I do this zine. This hate zine. This bitter half-sized xerox thing that says "fuck" a lot, but is comfortable enough with "fuck" that it doesnít draw attention to that particular word or seem like an attempt to seem older & more sophisticated. I give it out to other kids at my junior high, mainly the ones who are repulsed or shocked by it, because Iím in all these advanced classes filled with preppie kids who are now & probably always will be their parentsí sons & daughters instead of individual entities. Now the schoolís all mad because some of the kids might start thinking for themselves & so Iím in the principalís office. The principalís trying to be all tough & is half-way threatening me with physical violence, but Iím not scared of her. She looks like the one mother from Soap, the one who didnít go on to be Mona in Whoís the Boss & I canít take her seriously. She kicks over the chair Iím sitting in & Iím on my back still in the chair & sheís leaning over me saying, "Listen, you little punk. You canít do anything you want here. Youíre in a lot of trouble." Iím so tired of her & Iím not trying to be rude or rebel or anything, but I say, "Fuck off," & get out of the chair & grab my bookbag & leave the office & walk out of the school to the convenience store across the street to play pinball.
 
 

Zann

Iím playing her viola. I shouldnít be. I shouldnít play anybody elseís instruments. I play them violently. I assault them. The strings are breaking & I donít have the money to replace them. It just sounds like noise & itís deafening with my face pressed against it. This might be the music that scares monsters away.